NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- A Russian economic official said Friday bilateral trade with Myanmar could increase dramatically under the terms of a deal that may extend to energy.
Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev was on hand for the signing of a bilateral trade agreement with his counterparts in Myanmar. Bilateral trade stands at $114 million per year and could grow to $500 million by 2017 under the agreement.
"The agreement signed today will be the basis for further long-term cooperation within trade, economy and science," he said.
More than 60 Russian companies, including oil company Bashneft, have already taken part in a trade commission with Myanmar officials, he said.
Bashneft earlier this month secured the rights to serve as the operator at an exploration program in central Myanmar. Seismic surveys have been conducted to get a better understanding of the reserve potential, which the Russian oil company said was "promising."
Bashneft's announcement follows a string of deals for companies investing in Myanmar more than four years after an era of military rule ended with general elections.
World powers have relaxed sanctions against Myanmar in recognition of the reforms, though human rights groups have expressed concern it was that economic pressure that encouraged the developments in the first place.