Shillong, Sept 04: A high-level delegation led by Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) visited Myanmar from August 26-31 to study and explored opportunities of Border Trade, Bilateral Trade and Investment in Myanmar.
The delegation discovered that Mandalay and Saigon region of Myanmar offers excellent trade and investment opportunities in areas like agriculture, food processing, minerals based plants, healthcare, education and infrastructure among others.
Myanmar with almost 90 percent Buddhist population also offers excellent opportunities for Indian travel and tourism industry.
Mentionably, Indian Government has also agreed to set-up IIIT and Agriculture University in Mandalay region which is expected to support cooperation in IT and agriculture sector.
ICC delegation had successful meetings with several Union Ministers of Myanmar at NPT relating to infrastructure and economy, including Ministry of Posts & Communication, Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, Construction, Development and Planning. Ministry of Posts & Communication of Myanmar has already agreed to go ahead with the proposal of connectivity and international roaming service between India and Myanmar.
ICC felt that there is huge potential for joint venture between two countries in Agriculture, Hydrocarbon, Education, IT & Telecommunication sectors, SMSE.
Meanwhile, Indian Companies, who were part of the delegation, discussed and agreed to a pilot project for seeds in paddy and cotton and agreed to consider possibility of cotton farming and composite textile mill.
Discussions also revolved around key issues like trade facilitation through setting up world-class integrated facilities at Land Custom Stations, development of Border Haats, establishment of Joint Trade and Investment Forum, and regularize trade exchanges; facilitating more trade and business delegation exchanges and promotion of cross-border tourism, among other agenda points.
Development of transport and tourism sector is expected to grow further with implementation of signed Air Service agreements between the two countries.
The ICC delegation also extended its support for realization of the proposed trans-border bus service from Imphal, India to Mandalay, Myanmar project in the near future and for the Transnational Highway connecting Manipur in India to Thailand via Myanmar.
ICC had taken a very senior team to Myanmar just before elections in Myanmar in 2010 which included members from 3 Neighboring States of India and Central Government. ICC Team concluded that there is lot of synergy between North East of India and Myanmar, the two connecting links between South Asia and South East Asia which need to be harvested in a definite planned manner.
Better connectivity, trade, culture, health and education cooperation, tourism, and cross border investment will go a long way to answer and resolve many of the problems facing the rapid development of the North east region.
It may be mentioned that after achieving substantial success in contributing to the India-Bangladesh relations ICC is now focusing its attention through the NE Initiative to better engagement with Myanmar.
ICC is also setting up a Myanmar Desk at Kolkata and at its Regional Office at Guwahati which will facilitate investment and business opportunities between two countries.
Mentionably, this was first ever trade delegation to enter Myanmar through Moreh â€“ Tamu Border with the help of Government of Manipur traveled through the India- Myanmar Friendship road which was inaugurated in 2002 to strengthen Border infrastructure and facilitate Border trade between two countries. The delegation visit was jointly organized with Indian Embassy in Yangon and Consulate General of India, Mandalay.
The delegation visited five important towns of Myanmar including Kalemyo, Mandalay, Monywa, Nei Pyi Taw and Yangon. The visit was a first of its kind for any Chamber where the delegation travelled through the road route and had firsthand experience through various interactions with wide range of stakeholders.
ICC Delegation also interacted with Traders at Moreh â€“ Tamu border and discussed the issues hampering formal border trade. The discussion highlighted issues like lack of adequate banking facilities, limited items for border trade, high cost of doing business, infrastructure bottlenecks, complex documentation formalities etc.
However the situation is expected to improve in view of recent visit of Indian prime Minister and the agreements to upgrade roads, construction of bridges and assistance for projects in the bordering regions.
The transnational highway is expected to give desired boost to the North East India and connect with Thailand and other ASEAN countries through Myanmar. Given the fact that north-eastern states is the gateway to the South-East Asian markets, ICC feels states like Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have a huge role to play in taking Indo-Myanmar trade relations to a higher growth trajectory.