The Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles Shri Anand Sharma has set the target of doubling the existing US$1.5 billion trade between India and Myanmar by 2015. Chairing the 4th meeting of Joint Trade Commission along with Mr U Win Myint, Union Minister of Commerce, Myanmar, Shri Sharma said “I propose that we work towards doubling of bilateral trade by 2015. We also need to work towards broad-basing our trade basket. ….. Let us encourage businesses of both sides need to be encouraged to utilize Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme and ASEAN FTA channels to diversify trade.”
Shri Sharma said construction of the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project comprising of a waterway component and a roadway component by 2013 will completely transform the trade between North East India and the rest of the world. Cost of the project is US$ 120 million. The Project envisages a direct trade corridor between Indian Ports on the eastern seaboard and Sittwe Port in Myanmar and then through riverine transport and by road to Mizoram, thereby providing an alternate route for transport of goods to North-East India. The two countries recognized the need to start collaborating to build a Land Customs Station at India-Myanmar Border (at Mizoram) to facilitate the movement of vehicles and goods entering and leaving Mizoram state.
On the issue of border trade it was noted that the border trade point at Moreh, on Indian side, and Tamu, on Myanmaar side, is stabilising and has immense potential for normal trade. Shri Sharma invited his counterpart to inaugurate the second border trade point at Zowkhatar(Mizoram) that will connect to Rhi in Myanmar. Both the Ministers stressed the need for working on two additional border trade points – Pangsau Pass (in Arunachal Pradesh) and Avangkhung (in Nagaland). India and Myanmar have also expanded the list of items for border trade from 22 to 40.
Shri Sharma also informed India’s assistance for capacity building in agricultural research and improving the seed variety in Myanmar.
India is keen to participate in the gas sector of Myanmar. Indian companies have shown interest in setting up of gas based units, invest in LNG infrastructure, etc. The Indian Minister pushed for Indian participation in allocation of gas blocks in Myanmar. Myanmar side showed strong support for the proposal.
One third of India’s imports in pulses and one-fifth of India’s imports of timber are from Myanmar. With the implementation of India-ASEAN FTA and the Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme, Shri Sharma expressed the confidence that India can become one of the leading trade partners of Myanmar. Currently, two items – pulses and wood products accounted for 97.5% of Myanmar’s total exports to India. Similarly, buffalo meat and pharmaceuticals accounted for 45% of India’s total exports to Myanmar.