India-Myanmar border trade all set to improve

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, April 3: | Updated: Apr 4 2008, 00:20am hrs
India and Myanmar has decided to increase the border trade between the two countries which at present is limited to 22 select items

Both sides expect that the agreement on the Kaladan multi-modal transit-cum-transport project signed on Thursday night would help to increase connectivity between the two countries.

Minister of State for Commerce, Jairam Ramesh said that the Rs 548 crore project would be entirely funded by India and the Inland Waterways Authority of India has been appointed as project development consultant.

The project would like link by road Kolkata in India to Sittwe, Kaleutwa in Myanmar and would touch the Mizoram in India. It envisages development of 225 km waterway on the river Kaladan and upgradation of the ports and construction of two roadways.

The Myanmar senior general, Maunge Aye is leading a strong official and business delegation to India. Myanmar has also sought. India's cooperation in exploration of hydrocarbons, oil and natural and also for setting up of refineries. It has sought Indian cooperation in higher education, mining, IT and science and technology.

Ramesh said : "The northeastern India would be able to boost its border trade with Myanmar. We will also consider opening up of trading points Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. At present we have only one trading point at Moreh in Manipur. The project would also help India to effectively integrate with the ASEAN region through Myanmar."

The president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), U Win Myint said that as per official figures Myanmar's exports to India in border trade declined from $ 11.325 million in 2004-05 to $ 11.176 million in 2005-06, while India's exports across the border increased from $ 4.443 million to $ 5.533 million in 2005-06. The total border trade increased from $ 15.768 million in 2004-05 to $ 16.709 million in 2005-06.

He said there was enough scope to increase the border trade. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and UMFCCI signed a MoU on Thursday for boosting trade and investment the two countries.

In the overall trade between the two countries, the balance is however in favour of Myanmar which exported $ 781.93 million to India in 2006-07 and imported $ 139.05 million in return. India's exports largely consisted of drugs, pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, manufactured rubber products, plastic and linoleum products, primary and semi-finished iron and steel and project goods.

India's imports from Myanmar was mainly pulses, wood and wood products, natural rubber, pulp and paper wastes transport equipment

India is the second largest destination for Myanmar's exports, India is ranked fourth exporting country in terms of Myanmar's imports. In terms of foreign direct investment (FDIs) flows into Myanmar India is ranked 14th.

The Myanmar Minister for Commerce, Brigadier General Tin Naing Thein said that smoothening of payment transactions and transport facilities can improve the trade between the two countries. He said that Myanmar was keen to improve border trade with India. The Myanmar Minister for National Planning and Economic Development, U Soe Tha said that Myanmar was keen to have trade and cooperation with an emerging economy like India.