India, Myanmar agree to step up trade & economic ties, fight terrorism

NetIndian News Network

India, Myanmar agree to step up trade & economic ties, fight terrorism

28 May 2012

New Delhi/India today extended a $ 500 million line of credit to the Government of Myanmar as the two countries signed 12 agreements for cooperation in various areas and agreed on a vision for the future in the pursuit of the common good - bilaterally, regionally and globally.

At talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Myanmar President Thein Sein Nay Pyi Taw today, the two countries agreed to cooperate in areas such as border area development, transportation, connectivity, agriculture, trade and investment, promotion of friendly exchanges and human resource development.

A joint statement issued after the meeting said the two sides recognized that peace and stability in the region was necessary for development and well-being of the people of their respective countries.

In this context, they emphasized the importance of close cooperation between India and Myanmar and the need to effectively harness their respective resources for the good of the peoples of the two countries.

Both leaders reaffirmed their shared commitment to fight the scourge of terrorism and insurgent activity in all its forms and manifestations. Both of them emphasized the need for enhanced cooperation between security forces and border guarding agencies for securing peace, security and stability in the border areas, which was crucial for overall development.

In this context, the two leaders welcomed the holding of the first meeting of the bilateral Regional Border Committee whose deliberations were useful in promoting such cooperation and understanding for better border management. Both leaders reiterated the assurance that territories of either country would not be allowed to be used for activities inimical to the other, including for training, sanctuary and other operations by terrorist and insurgent organisations and their operatives.

Both leaders also alluded to the importance of sound border management as an intrinsic part of maintaining border security. In this context, they directed that the respective Survey Departments should inspect and maintain boundary pillars in a systematic manner. They also directed the respective Heads of Survey Department to finalise dates for an early joint inspection of the sectors jointly identified at the 17th National Level Meeting.

Dr Singh, accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, had reached Myanmar yesterday at the start of a three-day visit, the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 25 years after the visit by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in December 1987. The visit is being seen as a historic milestone in the relations between the two countries.

Dr Singh and Mr Thein Sein held a held a restricted meeting this morning, followed by delegation level talks on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

"The talks were held in a warm, cordial and constructive atmosphere reflecting the close and friendly relations between the two neighbouring countries and peoples," the statement said.

Dr Singh was assisted by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, Mr Pulok Chatterjee, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and Indian Ambassador to Myanmar V S Seshadri.

The President of Myanmar was assisted by Mr Wunna Maung Lwin, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs and other Union Ministers and the Myanmar Ambassador to India U Zin Zaw.

Dr Singh and Mr Thein Sein comprehensively reviewed the multifaceted bilateral relationship and took stock of developments since the ’very successful State visit" of Mr Thein Sein to India in October last year.

They expressed satisfaction at the ongoing official exchanges and the growing economic, trade and cultural ties, as well as people-to-people exchanges.

Dr Singh congratulated Mr Thein Sein on the path breaking reform measures taken by the Government of Myanmar towards greater democratisation and national reconciliation. He commended the on-going efforts at political, economic and social reform, which included negotiation of preliminary peace agreements with several ethnic groups as well as dialogue with various democratic political parties including the National League for Democracy led by Ms Aung San Suu Kyi. He also expressed appreciation for the free, fair and peaceful conduct of the recent bye-elections.

The Prime Minister reiterated India`s readiness to extend all necessary assistance in accelerating Myanmar’s democratic transition and developing the capacity of democratic institutions such as the Parliament, National Human Rights Commission and the media.

Recalling the very successful visit of a Parliamentary delegation led by Thura U Shwe Mann, Speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw, to India in December 2011, the Prime Minister conveyed India’s readiness to undertake training programmes for Myanmar Parliamentarians and staff.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the growing dimension of development cooperation between the two countries which is being financed under grants and concessional loans amounting to $ 1.2 billion till date. Taking stock of ongoing projects in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, human resource development, industrial development, power, health and do on, the two leaders agreed to identify more projects of benefit to the people of Myanmar in future.

Both leaders welcomed the signing of the MoU on the $ 500 million Line of Credit extended by India to the Government of Myanmar which would pave the way for its early operationalisation.

The Line of Credit will be utilised in the infrastructure development projects, including in the fields of Agriculture and Irrigation, Rail Transportation, and Electric Power in Myanmar.

The two leaders identified the need for special focus on the development and prosperity of the people in bordering areas and agreed to cooperate to bring about overall socio-economic development in the border areas by undertaking both infrastructure development and micro-economic projects, including upgradation of roads and construction of schools, health centres, bridges, agriculture and related training activities.

The President of Myanmar also welcomed India’s offer of assistance in production of large cardamom in the Naga Self Administered Zone.

Among other areas, the two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in science & technology. The two leaders decided to set up the Myanmar Institute of Information Technology with financial and technical assistance from India.

Dr Singh announced continued technical and financial support for the India-Myanmar Centre for Enhancement of IT Skills in Yangon for a further 5-year period when it will also undergo a technology upgrade. He also announced a Fellowship for Myanmar researchers to work in Indian universities and research institutions.

He said the existing number of training slots for Myanmar, including under the Indian Economic and Technical Cooperation (ITEC) Programme, would be doubled from the current 250 to 500.

India offered to train Myanmar diplomats in conference management and assist in setting up language laboratories and conference rooms in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon and an e-research centre in Nay Pyi Taw for the Ministry of Foreign affairs.

In agriculture, the two leaders decided to to establish the Advanced Centre for Agricultural Research and Education as a Centre for Excellence using cutting edge technology along with traditional knowledge and ecological conservation with financial and technical assistance from India. They also agreed to set up a Rice Bio Park within the Department of Agricultural Research, Yezin in Nay Pyi Taw in order to demonstrate available techniques of sustainable rice biomass utilisation.

Mr Thein Sein thanked the Prime Minister for India’s support to the construction of a modern cyclone-proof rice silo within the Model Integrated Farm at Nay Pyi Taw.

The Myanmar side requested for India’s assistance in arranging training programmes/ fellowships in the areas of dairy development, cattle breeding, vaccine technology and assistance in setting up a milk and milk product factory in Shan State. The Indian side agreed to consider the proposal favourably.

Alluding to the mutually agreed target of doubling bilateral trade by 2015, both leaders emphasized that there is considerable untapped potential for greater trade and urged the business community to capitalize on this potential.

Investments by Indian companies in areas like ports, highways, oil & gas, plantation, manufacturing, hospitality and ICT would be specifically encouraged. In this context, the two leaders underscored the importance of the newly created Trade and Investment Forum in enabling timely and accurate exchange of information and ideas.

They assured that both Governments would work to identify and remove various impediments to bilateral trade. In this context, they welcomed the establishment of a representative office of the United Bank of India in Yangon as a first step in facilitating business-friendly banking transactions between the two countries.

The Myanmar side welcomed the proposals for the training of Myanmar officials in the banking sector by Indian banks and for cooperation in the agriculture banking sector.

Considering the vast potential for promoting trade between the two countries, both sides agreed that the Reserve Bank of India would sign an MoU with the Central Bank of Myanmar on currency arrangements between India and Myanmar in the near future.

Taking into account the needs of communities residing near the border, the two leaders welcomed the decision to set up border "haats" along the border and the MoU agreed for this purpose. They also noted that the decision to upgrade banking infrastructure at border trade points would also facilitate greater trade between people living in these areas.

The two leaders directed that a bilateral Border Trade Committee should be set up to implement the earlier decision that meetings would be held regularly between the border trade officials and businesspersons in Tamu-Moreh and Rhi-Zowkhathar.

The two leaders emphasised the need for closer cooperation to further energy security. In this context, they welcomed the signing of the Production Sharing Contract between the Government of Myanmar and Jubilant Energy of India.

They encouraged investment by Indian companies in Myanmar oil and gas sector, including in available blocks that are being offered for investment which have good prospects. They also agreed to encourage investment by Indian companies in downstream projects in the petroleum industry.

Mr Thein Sein expressed his appreciation to India for undertaking the preparation of Detailed Project Reports of the Tamanthi and Shwezaye hydropower projects. Both leaders directed their respective officials to study the contents of the DPRs and finalise the future course of action, taking into account technical, commercial and socio-environmental considerations.

The to sides signed a Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) for the period 2012-2015, which would also promote cultural exchanges between the North Eastern States of India and the bordering areas of Myanmar.

The Myanmar side thanked India for its decision to gift a 16 feet sand stone replica of the Sarnath Buddha later in the year that will be installed in the precincts of the Shwedagon Pagoda. A smaller replica will unveiled by the Prime Minister during his visit.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the ongoing pace of work on the project for conservation and restoration of the Ananda Temple in Bagan, Myanmar by the Archaeological Survey of India which is expected to be completed over the next two years.

The two leaders emphasised the importance of enhancing connectivity between the two countries as a means of promoting commercial, cultural, touristic and other exchanges between the peoples of the two countries. They expressed satisfaction at the steady progress being made on the Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project. They welcomed the finalisation of the site of the Land Customs Station at Zorinpui (Mizoram) following joint inspection by Indian and Myanmar delegations in April 2012.

Dr Singh announced that India would undertake the task of repair and upgradation of 71 bridges on the Tamu- Kalewa friendship Road. The two leaders decided that India would undertake the upgradation of the Kalewa-Yargyi road segment to highway standard while Myanmar would undertake that of upgradation of the Yargyi-Monywa stretch to highway standard by 2016. This project would help in establishing trilateral connectivity from Moreh in India to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar. The two leaders welcomed the revival of the Joint Task Force on the Trilateral Highway between India-Myanmar –Thailand. It was agreed that efforts would be made to establish seamless trilateral connectivity by 2016.

Taking into account the importance of enabling people-to-people contacts, the two sides agreed to launch a trans-border bus service from Imphal, India to Mandalay. The two leaders directed the concerned officials from both sides to finalise all modalities to enable its early operationalisation.

They also welcomed the signing of the new Air Service agreement which would enhance direct air connectivity and facilitate easy business interaction, tourism and people-to people exchanges.

The two leaders decided to constitute a Joint Working Group to determine the technical and commercial feasibility of cross-border rail links and the commercial feasibility of direct shipping links between the two countries.

The two sides also discussed the possibility of Indian participation in development of key infrastructure projects, like Dawei port in Myanmar.

According to the statement, Dr Singh and Mr Thein Sein discussed a broad range of regional and international issues of mutual interest. They agreed to continue their coordination on issues of common interest on the international agenda.

The two leaders emphasized the importance of close coordination towards the cause of regional cooperation. The Prime Minister extended his good wishes to Myanmar for a successful term as BIMSTEC Chair, including its proposal to host the next BIMSTEC Summit meeting.

They looked forward to further intensification of ASEAN-India co-operation under Myanmar`s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014.

Dr Singh emphasised that Myanmar holds a significant place both in India`s Look East Policy and in its collaboration with ASEAN countries under the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI). The two leaders agreed to cooperate closely on activities related to the forthcoming ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi.

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