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Rediff.com  » Business » India wants to double trade with Myanmar

India wants to double trade with Myanmar

September 27, 2011 16:14 IST

Leveraging the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, India wants to double its commerce with Myanmar and diversify the bilateral engagement to agro-research and natural gas exploration.

The India-Myanmar trade, comprising pulses, meat, products, timber and pharmaceuticals, is only USD 1.5 billion at present.

"I propose that we work towards doubling of bilateral trade by 2015. We also need to work towards broad-basing our trade basket," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said.

Sharma said business community of the two countries should utilise Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme and the ASEAN FTA channels to diversify the bilateral trade.

India has operationalised its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a leading member.

Sharma said construction of the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project comprising waterway and roadway by 2013 would transform the trade between India's north-eastern states and the rest of the world.

Being built at USD 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.

The two countries have recognized the need to collaborate in building a land customs station at India-Myanmar Border (at Mizoram).

It was noted that the border trade point at Moreh, on Indian side and Tamu, on Myanmar side, is stabilising.

Sharma invited his Myanmar counterpart to inaugurate the second border trade point at Zowkhatar (Mizoram) that will connect to Rhi in Myanmar.

The ministers stressed the need for 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. Sharma offered India's assistance for capacity building in agricultural research and improving the seed variety in Myanmar.

He said India is keen to participate in the gas sector of Myanmar. Indian companies have shown interest in setting up of gas-based units and invest in LNG infrastructure.

He also pushed for Indian participation in allocation of gas blocks in Myanmar. The Myanmar side showed strong support for the proposal, a Commerce Ministry statement said. Myanmar is source of one-third of India's imports in pulses and one-fifth in timber.

With the implementation of India-ASEAN FTA and the Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme, the two countries can step up the commercial engagement, it was noted at the meeting.

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