RANGOON — Burmese citizens will soon be able to travel to Vietnam without a visa, Vietnam’s government says.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday that the Vietnam and Burma governments had signed an agreement that would also allow Vietnam passport holders to visit Burma without a visa, so long as the trip was less than 15 days, according to the Vietnam-based Tuoi Tre newspaper.
The visa exemption for both countries will be effective starting on Oct. 26, the newspaper reported. To qualify for the visa exemption, travelers must have a passport that has been valid for at least six months.
At Rangoon-based Columbus Travels & Tours, the manager said she expected travel between both nations to increase. “Burmese people can easily visit Vietnam, and Vietnamese people can also visit here more conveniently,” she said.
The visa exemption agreement was signed between Burma Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh earlier this month in the United States, where the Burma diplomat was visiting for a session of the UN General Assembly.
Vietnamese passport holders can now travel to nine countries in Southeast Asia without a visa.
In the past, a tourist visa to Burma cost US$20 for Vietnamese passport holders. Burmese travelers were charged $55 for a visa to Vietnam.
Vietnam is now targeting over $1 billion investment in Burma by 2015 and at least $2 billion by 2020, especially in the construction and banking sectors, as Burma’s economy opens after decades of isolation under military rule. Bilateral trade between both countries has grown an annual average of 60 percent since 2009.