The government is in talks with Asean countries to extend the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) highway up to Vietnam, a senior official said today.
India and Asean countries are holding consultations on the extension of the 1,360 km IMT highway — from Moreh in India to Mae-Sot in Thailand– to Laos, Cambodia and to Vietnam, she said. “Already some level of discussions have started and…we have also announced certain line of credit for the purpose on certain projects,” said Dakshita Das, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. She was speaking at the Asean-India Connectivity Summit, organised here by industry body CII. “Once we connect, we have a tremendous potential in terms of incremental GDP. Connectivity can generate annually, an estimated USD 70 billion in incremental GDP and 20 million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025,” she said.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), has 10 member nations — Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia. Das said that another area on which the government is working to connect India with South East Asia is the IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA). India, Myanmar and Thailand in 2014 commenced negotiations for finalising and implementing the IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA). Framework MVAs need to be urgently concluded to utilise the physical road infrastructure on IMT Trilateral Highway and Asean that are central to completing the vision of India-Asean connectivity, Das said.
Yudhvir Singh Malik, Secretary at the ministry, said that the Northeast is the “door to building connectivities along with the Asean countries. I look forward to a day when I can drive my car to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok”. Connecting India with the South eastern countries through a network of road will create jobs, market for crops grown in hilly regions of the Northeast which will also help growers in getting better price for their produce, he said.