12 Oct :The Minister of State for Commerce and Power, Shri Jairam Ramesh is heading an official delegation for trade and investment talks with the Government of Myanmar in Mandalay on 14th and 15th October 2008.
In his two previous visits earlier in May and June this year, apart from the bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement, agreements were signed for a $ 60 million line of credit from India to Myanmar for power transmission to be executed by the Power Grid Corporation of India and for another $ 60 million line of credit for a 111 MW hydel power project to be executed by BHEL. India is also implementing the Rs. 540 crore Kaladan multi-modal transport and transit project to be completed by end-2012 and that will provide an alternative access route to India’s northeast through the Myanmarese port of Sittwe and through the Kaladan river. Lines of credit for refinery modernisation and highways are on the anvil. In addition, following Shri Jairam Ramesh’s talks at the highest levels of the Government of Myanmar in June 2008, NHPC has just signed an MoU with the Government of Myanmar for developing hydel projects in the Chindwin River basin of which the 1200 Mw Tamanthi multi-purpose project will be the first venture.
In the Mandalay talks, Shri Jairam Ramesh will take up the Indian desire to expand trade centres along the 1600-kms India-Myanmar border. At present, only Moreh in Manipur is the only operational trade centre on the border. India will propose two additional such centres—Avangkhu in Nagaland and Zowkhathar in Mizoram which is also a long-standing demand of these two states. However, border trade centres in Arunachal Pradesh are not under discussion because of security and other considerations on the Indian side. In addition, India will propose an expansion of items to be traded with a view to move towards normal free trade very soon at these centres. India is also expected to reiterate its offer to include Mynamar in the duty free tariff preference scheme announced by it for LDCs. The details of the financing mechanism to facilitate expanded bilateral trade will be also be firmed up during the Mandalay talks. UBI has already signed an agreement with the Foreign Trade Bank of Myanmar for establishing such a mechanism.
Myanmar will be the beneficiary of the FTA with ASEAN to be signed by India and ASEAN in Bangkok on December 18th. Myanmar is also a member of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Multisectoral Economic Cooperation) Agreement involving Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand. India is hosting the BIMSTEC Summit in New Delhi in mid-November 2008. India’s exports to Myanmar in 2007/08 amounted to about $ 185 million, while its imports from Myanmar were valued at around $ 810 million (comprising almost entirely of pulses). Myanmar thus enjoys a substantial trade surplus with India other countries of South Asia (barring Bhutan).
On October 16th, the Myanmar Prime Minister and Shri Jairam Ramesh will inaugurate a Centre for Enhancement of IT Skills established at Yangon with Indian assistance of $ 2 million. This Centre, to be run by Indian professionals, is equipped to train 1000 youth every year initially who will be awarded a diploma of the Pune-based C-DAC (Centre for the Development of Advanced Computing) which is an institution under the Ministry of Information Technology.