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Myanmar's farming minister to discuss quarantine regulations

A top Myanmarese agriculture policymaker will visit South Korea later this month to possibly discuss Seoul's quarantine regulations often cited as a hurdle for its exports of mangoes and other fruits, officials here said.

Aung Thu, Myanmar's farming, livestock and irrigation minister, is scheduled to visit South Korea from June 27-July 2. This will mark the first time for the minister to travel overseas since his inauguration earlier this year, they said.

His itinerary includes attending a forum held in the southeastern city of Daegu, making a trip to the Saemangeum reclamation site located in the southwestern part of the country.

He also plans to meet South Korea's Agriculture Minister Lee Dong-phil.

"One of the major issues to be discussed with South Korea's farming minister will be quarantine regulations," a high-ranking Myanmarese official told a group of reporters here on Wednesday.

He said that South Korea's quarantine regulations imposed on fresh products, including fruits and vegetables, are "much stricter" than other countries, which he argued has put a restriction on exports of Myanmar's famous mangoes to Korea.

Myanmar is reportedly exporting most of its mangoes to China and trying to diversify export countries. Experts say that Myanmar currently does not have the proper facilities and procedures in place to satisfy Seoul's quarantine rules.

More than 70 percent of Myanmar's people work in the farming sector, which accounts for about 30 percent of its gross domestic product and 23 percent of its exports.

In a meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Aung Thu said that the government will double the portion of farming in its economy by 2020, saying that Myanmar is a country with a foundation in agriculture.

"To increase our GDP and exports, farming is important," the minister said. "Many things should start with farming policy." (Yonhap)
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