July 1, 2013: India’s Minister of Commerce Industry and Textiles, Shri Anand Sharma, was in Myanmar expanding the footprint of the country in the economy of the land bridge between South and South East Asia.
During his meeting with the Myanmar President U Thein Sein in Naypyitaw, Minister Sharma Union covered a whole gamut of issues for deepening the economic ties between India and Myanmar. The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister, Industry Minister and Planning Minister from the Myanmar side focusing on SME sector, economic cooperation, trade, energy, agriculture and telecommunication.
A Press Bureau of India release stated, India has offered US$ 150 million of credit for project exports for establishing a SEZ at Sittwe in Myanmar Buyer’s Credit Scheme under National Export Insurance Account (NEIA). The offer assumes that Myanmar Government will give a suitable land for the purpose.
Talking about cooperation in banking sector Shri Sharma conveyed India’s appreciation for the Myanmar Government’s approval to allow Indian Banks like United Bank of India to set a representative office in Myanmar. He expressed the hope that the two public sector banks viz., Bank of India and State Bank of India, who have also expressed interest, would also be permitted to operate in Myanmar. Shri Sharma stressed the need for permission to open full-fledged banking services. Even setting up a joint venture state-owned bank with India and Myanmar sharing equity would further enable to strengthen our ties in banking and commerce, said Shri Sharma.
The two leaders also discussed cooperation in Energy sector. Shri Sharma expressed satisfaction on the progress of cooperation in this field as the renovation of the Thanlyin Refinery and the ongoing upgradation of the Thanbayakan Petrochemical Complex proceeded smoothly. The renovation of the Thanlyin Refinery was financed by US$ 20 million LoC, signed in 2005-06. The upgradation of Thanbayakan Petrochemical Complex is being financed by another US$20 million LoC signed in 2008-09.
Shri Sharma later told media persons that many of the Indian companies undertaking exploratory activities in North East region India which shares common geological traits with neighbouring Myanmar are well placed to also take up such activities there. Myanmar Government has shortlisted 59 companies for submission of final bids for 18 onshore gas blocks on offer. Seven Indian companies are part of those shortlisted. Shri Sharma conveyed the robust track record of Indian companies to the President.
Indian companies are very active in the oil and gas field in Myanmar. OVL and GAIL have announced US$ 1.33 billion investment in China-Myanmar gas pipeline project. Phase I of 200 km Kyaukphyu-Kunming Oil & Gas pipeline worth US$ 475 million for construction of two parallel pipelines for gas and oil has been awarded to Punj Lloyd. PSC-1 onshore block in Central Myanmar worth US$ 73 million has been awarded to Jubilant Energy India on the basis of a global tender in 2011. The two leaders also discussed revival of the discussions on the gas pipeline connection between India and Myanmar through Bangladesh.
India is involved in improving road connectivity with ASEAN country which will create new opportunities for India’s north eastern region. Shri Sharma informed of the significant progress in the area. India has extended assistance for road development projects which include upgradation of the Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo (TKK) road (about 160 kms); Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project which envisages development of road and inland waterways from Sittwe port in Myanmar to Mizoram; and some segments of Trilateral Highway Project (about 1360 kms) connecting Moreh (Manipur, India) to Mae Sot (Thailand) through Myanmar. These will prove of great benefit to India’s land locked North East.
BRO has completed the resurfacing and maintenance work of 132 kms Tamu-Kyigone-Kalemyo stretch of the road and handed over to Myanmar. The remaining 11 kms of the 28 km section on the Kyigone- Kalewa stretch is also to be handed over to Myanmar after completion. Indian assistance towards repair/upgradation of the 71 bridges on the Tamu-Kalewa road and the upgradation of the Kalewa-Yargyi road section of the Trilateral Highway was announced during the visit of the Prime Minister to Myanmar in May 2012. The work on the Sittwe Port of the Kaladan Project, which began in December 2010 is expected to be completed by mid 2013. The Detailed Engineering Report (DER) for the road component is expected to be finalised in 2013. A new Air Service agreement to facilitate direct air connectivity was signed during the visit of the Prime Minister in May 2012. Currently Air India is operating 3 services per week on the Kolkata Yangon Sector.
Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh paid a state visit to Myanmar from May 27-29 2012. During the Visit Prime Minister several new initiatives were announced and signed including extension of a new line of credit (LOC) for US$500 million to Myanmar, support for setting up an Advance Centre for Agriculture Research and Education in Yezin, a Rice Bio-park in the integrated Demonstration Park in Nay Pyi Taw, and an Information Technology Institute in Mandalay, Air Service Agreement, Establishment of Joint Trade and Investment Forum, MoU on Border Areas Development, and establishment of Border Haats and Cultural Exchange Programme. Shri Sharma addressed the first meeting of Joint Trade and Investment Forum which was co chaired from Indian side by Shri Sunil Bharti Mittal at Yangon on Friday. Bharti Telecom which is headed by Mr Mittal is planning to invest close to $ 1 billion in Myanmar.
India has also offered to help in revival of 300 apparel factories in Myanmar. The South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) will provide technical assistance in formulation of revival plans for these factories. India will also cooperate with Myanmar in formulating a common compliance code for standards and also the best practices in the factories, said Shri Sharma. The Minister proposed to the Myanmar President a Common Compliance Code - Disha Myanmar with technical assistance from AEPC – to enhance compliance standards in Myanmar for exports to developed countries. India will be setting up India-Myanmar Apparel Sector JVs in Thilawa SEZ in collaboration with other international brands as per the Press Information Bureau report.