India to hold further trade talks with Myanmar in Mandalay

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New Delhi, Oct 12 (UNI) India and Myanmar will hold the next round of talks on trade and investment in Mandalay on October 14 and 15.

Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh is heading the official delegation which will take up issues such as expansion of trade centres along the 1600-km India-Myanmar border and India's offer to include Mynamar in the duty free tariff preference scheme announced by it for LDCs.

In his two previous visits earlier in May and June this year, apart from the bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement, he signed agreements for a 60 million US dollars 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 US dollars line of credit for a 111 MW hydel power project to be executed by BHEL.

India will also implement the Rs 540-crore Kaladan multi-modal transport and transit project to be completed by end-2012 providing an alternative access route to India's North East through the Myanmarese port of Sittwe and across the Kaladan river.

Lines of credit for refinery modernisation and highways are on the anvil.

Following the Minister's talks at the highest levels of the Government of Myanmar in June 2008, the NHPC has just signed an MoU with the Myanmar Government to develop hydel projects in the Chindwin river basin, of which the 1200 MW Tamanthi multi-purpose project will be the first venture.

Mr Ramesh will take up during the Mandalay talks India's desire to expand trade centres along the 1600-km India-Myanmar border. At present, 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 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.

The 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 countries to be signed by India and ASEAN in Bangkok on December 18. 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.

India's exports to Myanmar in 2007-08 amounted to about 185 million US dollars, while its imports from Myanmar were valued at around 810 million US dollars (comprising almost entirely of pulses).

Myanmar thus enjoys a substantial trade surplus with India other countries of South Asia (barring Bhutan).

On October 16, the Myanmar Prime Minister and Mr Ramesh will inaugurate a two million-dollar Centre for Enhancement of IT skills established at Yangon with Indian assistance.

The 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), an institution under the Ministry of Information Technology.

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