India propose new model for Sittwe Port

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Guwahati, Nov 25 (UNI) India will now use the BTU model of trade opeation for Sittwe Port in Myanmar, which promises to see an end to a five-year deadlock.

Talking to newsmen here today, Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said India now have proposed Built Transfer and Use(BTU) model, instead of the Built Operate and Own (BOO) model proposed earlier.

''I do hope to clinch a deal in a month or so with Myanmar government,'' said Mr Ramesh, the architect behind the new move as the project was gathering dust for past five years.

''The MEA feedback is that Myanmar is inclined to the new concept and I do not envisage more problem'' he said accepting that the earlier model was not being favoured by Myanmar.

India is likely to invest more than USD 103 million in the construction of the port, in the town of Sittwe in Myanmar's Rakhine State, while Myanmar has committed about USD 10 million in the joint venture project.

Mizoram is about 160 km from the port.

India and Myanmar have been giving final touches to a joint project, which will enable the North Eastern States to conduct trade directly with South-East Asia through Sittwe port, bypassing Bangladesh.

The development of the Port is part of the Kaladan Multi-modal Transport Project which was envisaged to facilitate movement of cargo vessels from Mizoram through Kaladan River, all the way to Sittwe.

The Sittwe Port Project is likely to take three years to complete. The project will not only benefit North Eastern States, but will also contribute to the development of Sittwe and the improvement of the Kaladan river system, he said.

Besides providing an access to South East Asia, Sittwe port would also be an exit point for mainland India. The Port lies about 12 hours from Haldia and 36 hours from Vishakapatnam.

The Minister informed that India had sought to add another 15 items for the border trade. ''Today through Myanmar only 22 items can be traded. Now we want the list to be upgraded and another 15 items should be added. There should not be any problem'' he said.

The Minister was in Arunachal Pradesh and oversaw the construction of border trade facilities in Nampong area on the Stillwell Road which both India and Myanmar were trying to upgrade.


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