Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Visa exemption deal likely during Yingluck’s November visit: official

Thailand and Myanmar are expected to sign a visa exemption agreement during Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s visit next month, a spokesperson from Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said last week.

The agreement will enable Myanmar citizens visiting Thailand by air to stay visa-free for up to 14 days.

Thai citizens will also be able to enter Myanmar visa-free under the same conditions.

Border crossings are not included under the exemption.

“We have already proposed a visa exemption… We will sign an agreement once the Thai government has approved it. I don’t know exactly when we will be able to sign but probably during the Thai prime minister’s visit to Myanmar next month,” said U Aung Htoo, deputy director general from the ministry’s Department of ASEAN Affairs.

The Bangkok Post reported on October 22 that the Thai cabinet has already endorsed the foreign ministry's proposal to approve the agreement, enabling Myanmar to enter Thailand visa-free at 23 airports.

Barely two months earlier, the newspaper reported that Thailand was “lukewarm” on the proposal because of concerns over illegal migrant workers.

The report cited a Thai government statement as saying that the visa-free arrangement can be cancelled by either Thailand or Myanmar but they must give 60 days’ advance notice through their foreign ministries.

It could also be cancelled for health or security reasons. The agreement does not include travellers passing through land border checkpoints, said U Aung Htoo.

“Recently we signed a visa exemption agreement with Vietnam and it will come into force from October 26. We are also negotiating with the Philippines and hopefully we will reach an agreement very soon,” he said.

“We plan to sign the same agreement with all other ASEAN members country in order to achieve the 2006 ASEAN Framework agreement on visa exemption… by 2015.”