India Myanmar China Connectivity Business Essay


93. Years after the Nathu-La pass, the highest traded pass between China and India opened, the Myanmar, China and India governments are working together to re-build Burma's historic 'Stilwell Road'. The road which passes through Myanmar could cut costs of transporting goods between China and India by 30 percent and will greatly aid the trade of commodities from India's isolated North East to China. The Stilwell Road was formerly the route from India used by British and American forces to supply Chinese troops in the battle against Japanese occupation during the Second World War. While both India and China had contested to construct the road, the contract to rebuild the 312 kilometer stretch from Myitkyina in Myanmar to Pangsau Pass on the India-Myanmar border was finally awarded to China's Yunnan Construction Engineering Group in a joint venture with the Burmese military-backed Yuzana Group. It winds its way from Ledo in Assam through Jairampur and Nampong in Arunachal Pradesh until it reaches the Pangsau Pass (aka the "Hell Pass") where it crosses into Myanmar. The road then weaves through upper Myanmar to reach Myitkyina before turning eastward to China where it culminates at Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province. Roughly 61 km runs through India, 1,035 km through Myanmar and 640 km in China.,%2000:00%20hrs/M_Id_10142.jpg

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94. After the war, the road has fallen into disuse, and with neither of the three countries cooperating with each other until now, the road was almost non-existent in many places. However with a renewal of ties and trade in the region rising manifold, the significance of ancient trade routes has regained prominence. Beijing has already renovated the stretch running through China and linked it with the country's superhighway network. It has also been developing other infrastructure in Yunnan, where Kunming is an increasingly important industrial center, in order to maximize gains from trade once the Stilwell Road is reopened.

Commercial and Economic Relations

95. Geographical proximity between India and Myanmar has translated into a long-standing economic and commercial relations across the land and sea routes alike. India-Myanmar bilateral trade had grown steadily in the 1990s to reach a level of US $ 328 million in 1997-98. The trade volume continued to rise through the 2000s upto US$ 569.17 million in 2005-06. The trade turnover shot up to US$ 892.99 million in 2006-07 doubling just in two years. The balance of trade has always been in favor of Myanmar. According to Myanmar statistics, in 2001-02, India was the second largest- market for Myanmar's exports. The total trade in 2010-11 (US$ 1070.88) has more than doubled in the last five years. India is now the fifth largest trade partner of Myanmar (4th largest export destination for Myanmar and 7th largest source of imports into Myanmar) after Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Singapore.

96. Bilateral Trade. India-Myanmar bilateral trade is estimated at US$ 1070.88 mn according to official figures. However, the actual trade between Indian and Myanmar is difficult to fathom due to trade via third country (Singapore) and inadequate availability of data


India's Export

India's Import


Trade Balance





(-) 641.98





(-) 624.51





(-) 707.33





(-) 1081.83





(-) 681.38

2011-12 (Apr-Dec)




(-) 545.67

(Source: CSO, Myanmar)

97. Imports. India's imports from Myanmar (US$ 876.13) are dominated by agricultural and forest based products. Myanmar is the second largest supplier of beans and pulses to India, next only to Canada, accounting for one third of India's total requirements of imported pulses. In 2010-11, export of pulses and beans accounted for more than 9%(US$ 802 mn) of Myanmar's exports (8.8 bn US$) alone. Of this, more than 66% is exported to India. Myanmar contributes to nearly one fifth of India's imports of timber, second only to Malaysia. In 2010-11 timber and wood products accounted for more than 30 % of Myanmar's exports to India.

98. Exports. India's exports (US$ 194.75) to Myanmar , though small, are diverse, ranging from primary commodities to manufactured products. Primary and semi-finished steel along with steel bars and rods constitute over one third of India's exports. In 2010-11, coupled with metals, this commodity accounted for more than 30% of India's exports to Myanmar. Pharmaceuticals are the next most important item and accounted for 27% (nearly US$ 60 mn) of India's exports to Myanmar in 2009-10. Indian companies have the largest market share (nearly 40%) of the Myanmar Pharma market which is estimated to be around 180 mn in 2010-11. Over 13 Indian pharma companies like Sun, Ranbaxy, Zydus Cadila, Dr Reddy, Lupin, Cipla etc are active in Myanmar. Pharmaceutical products contribute 26.6% (US$ 55 mn) of India's total exports to Myanmar. The other products exported to Myanmar are Iron & Steel (US$ 43 mn), electrical machinery, Mineral oil, Rubber and articles, plastics etc. Export of chemicals, plant & machinery and consumer goods, though small, shows potential for growth.

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99. Border Trade. Although trade in traditional goods on head load basis has been the customary practice since a long time, the Border Trade Agreement signed in 1994 gave it a legal framework. The Moreh- Tamu point in the Manipur sector was operationalized in April 1995. Under the 1994 Agreement, A second border trade point at Champai - Rhi in the Mizoram sector was opened on 30 January 2004. A third border trade point is proposed to be opened at Avakhung-Pansat/Somrai. India also proposes to build a 45 hectare Integrated Customs Station at Moreh. India and Myanmar have agreed to upgrade the status of Border Trade to Normal trade and have expanded the tradable list items from 18 to 40 since 2008. With an estimated border trade of US$ 12.8 mn(2010-11), major items bought by Myanmar traders from the Indian side are cotton yarn, auto parts, soya bean meal and pharmaceuticals, (reports also about smuggling of items like fertilizers, vehicles particularly two wheelers etc.) ; betel nut, dried ginger, green mung beans, black matpe, turmeric roots, resin and medicinal herbs are the main items sold from Myanmar to India. According to the Myanmar Department of Border Trade, the border trade turnover between India and Myanmar has ranged from US$ 10 to US$22 million, though it is probably higher if informal arrangements are taken into account.





Balance of Trade































100. Foreign Direct Investment. India is the thirteenth largest investor with an investment estimated at US$ 189 million in five projects. These include three investment proposals from Indian public sector oil companies worth US$ 137 million as approved by the Myanmar Investment Commission. However, additionally, Essar Oil Pvt Ltd has reported investments in Oil exploration. Also, in 2010 OVL and GAIL announced 1.33 bn investment in China-Myanmar gas pipeline project.

101. Private Sector Participation. Indian Private Sector enterprises have shown considerable interest in Myanmar in the recent years in Hotels & Tourism, plantation, cement, paper mills, pumps and other agricultural machinery, automobiles and processing industries. Indian investment in Myanmar is estimated at US$ 189 mn in five projects which include investments by companies including OVL, GAIL, and Essar Oil Ltd. Jubilant Energy has won the contract for the onshore block PSC-I in 2011. In addition to the above, Indian companies like Punj Lloyd, L&T, Apollo Hospitals, Tata Motors, Essar, NHPC, VNL, Jindal Steel, Nipha Exports etc. are active in Myanmar in various sectors.

102. Recent Developments In Bilateral Trade & Investment. Private entrepreneurs from both countries have shown increasing interest in conducting bilateral trade and commerce. This has been reflected in the large number of trade inquiries received from Indian and Myanmar businessmen. The inquiries from India relate to the export of pharmaceuticals, agricultural machinery, agrochemicals, electrical goods, iron and steel and IT-related products and services. From Myanmar, businessmen are keen to obtain information on export of pulses and beans and import of the various items listed above. In addition to this, the Government of India, in collaboration with Government of Myanmar has organized WTO workshops, visits for E-Networking project as a part of India-ASEAN initiative etc. to enhance bilateral commercial and economic relations in 2011. United bank of India delegation visited Myanmar in January 2012 to explore the possibility fo opening a representative office in Myanmar and for discussing banking arrangements between UBI and banks of Myanmar.

103. Joint Trade Committee. The mechanism of the Joint Trade Committee (JTC), chaired by the respective Commerce Ministers, has been effective in reviewing and setting policy objectives for bilateral trade between the two countries. Set up in 2003, the Joint Trade Committee has met four times so far (the last being in September 2011) and has successfully directed the rapid growth of commercial relations between the two countries. 4th JTC was held on 27th September 2011 at New Delhi. Myanmar delegation was led by H.E U Win Myint, Minister for Commerce. He was accompanied by a officials from Government of Myanmar and a 5 member business delegation including representative from Beans and Pulses sector, Tamu - Kalay Chamber of Commerce etc. During the meeting both sides reviewed bilateral trade and investment and agreed to double the bilateral trade to US$ 3 bn by 2015. Other important decision taken were setting up of Border Haats and to set up an India- Myanmar Joint Trade and Investment Forum. The two sides also discussed ways to improve connectivity between the two countries, and setting up of a Border Trade Committee. India has proposed to send a delegation of representatives of Indian Banking Sector to explore to discuss banking arrangements with Myanmar banks.

Trade Fair & Market Promotion

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104. Recent trade promotion events include the following :-

(a) The India Product Show 2012 representing 19 companies.

(b) NEFIT's car rally from Guwahati to Yangon and back.

(c) Enterprise India show 2011 organised by CII.

(d) India Pharmaceutical Expo 2011 held in Yangon with the help of PHARMEXCIL and the Myanmar Medical Association.

(e) The North East India Conclave held in Yangon and Mandalay in September 2010 by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Kolkata and the UMFCCI.

Culture Exchange

105. Performances by Indian cultural troupes in Myanmar have been organised on a regular basis since 1997. Various cultural troupes have exchanged visits and performed in both countries. In November 2009, a 13-member student group from Myanmar attended SAARC Cultural Festival in India. In December 2009, a popular Myanmar music band 'Emperor' went to India to participate in the "South Asian Bands Festival" organized by Indian Council for Cultural Relations. They also performed in Shillong, Meghalaya. In January 2010, the Embassy organized the annual "Indian Film Festival" at Yangon. This event has become a highlight of the Yangon cultural calendar. In March 2010, a famous landscape artist from Myanmar went to Puducherry, India to participate in "South Asian Artists Camp" organized by ICCR and SEHER. The paintings emerging from that camp were exhibited in the Embassy Auditorium in November 2010 and received an outstanding response from the local community. A 15-member theatre group from Myanmar went to India participate in "South Asian Theatre Festival" organized by ICCR and NSD in March 2010. The "Abiogenesis" band performed Yangon and Mandalay in the last week of May 2010. A Qawalli group (Sabri Brothers) performed in Yangon and other cities in Myanmar in January 2011. There was a packed calendar of commemorative activities for the Rabindranath Tagore 150th birth anniversary celebrations, including a dance drama, seminar, artists' camp, film festival etc. All the events were very well received by the Myanmar public and media. Classes in Bharatnatyam and Yoga have been started in the Embassy since December 2010, with the support of the ICCR.

Human Resource Development Cooperation

106. The Government of India is implementing the Human Resource Development (HRD) cooperation with Myanmar under different schemes such as Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme, Technical Cooperation Scheme (TCS) of Colombo Plan and various scholarships offered by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Special Course for ASEAN Diplomats. The areas of training range from courses in English language, Information Technology, Computer Application to Agriculture, Remote Sensing, Industries, Urban Development, Parliamentary Studies, Mass Communication, Management, SME/Rural Development, Specialized Courses, Technical Courses, Environment and Renewable Energy Courses and other related areas. In addition, the HRD Wing has also been arranging training in Hindi language for students of Indian origin. Most of these schemes include to and fro air fare, living allowance, book allowance and free study tours.

107. Training Institutions Set up in MYANMAR with INDIAN Assistance. The Government of India has also been involved in setting up four training institutions in Myanmar in collaboration with local partners. The institutions are :-

(a) Myanmar-India Entrepreneurship Development Centre(MIEDC). The Centre has been set up with the technical assistance of EDII, Ahmedabad and financial support from Government of India and functions under the administrative control of the Yangon Institute of Economics. Main training programmes offered are the New Enterprise Creation, Entrepreneurship Development and Performance Improvement Programmes. As on date, 2481 students have been trained at the centre.

(b) Myanmar-India Centre for English Language Training (MICELT). The centre set up with technical assistance from the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad and financial support from Government of India is functioning under the administrative control of the University of Foreign Languages, Yangon. It provides training in proficiency of English language, Official and Business Communications. It has run courses in INSET teacher training programmes at the certificate level and test prep programme for students appearing for IELTS. As on date, more than 400 students have been trained at this centre.

(c) India-Myanmar Centre for Enhancement of IT Skills (IMCELTS). The centre set up with the help of C-DAC, Pune and financial support from Government of India is functioning under the administrative control of the University of Computer Studies, Yangon provides training in courses of Java programming, MS.NET programming and wireless and Mobile computing. So far, 1020 students have been trained at this centre.

(d) India -Myanmar Industrial Training Centre, Pakkoku. The centre has been set up by HMT (I) Limited to develop skilled labour for Myanmar's budding industrial sector. Trainings offered by the centre are machinists-turners, machinists-millers, CNC machinists, industrial electricians, electronics mechanics, heat treatment workers, automobile mechanics, sheet metal and welding workers and TIG/MIG welding workers. So far, 209 persons have been trained at the centre.

(e) India-Myanmar Industrial Training Centre, Myingyan. A similar Center is being set up at Myingyan with financial assistance from Government of India and Technical assistance from HMTI. The MOU for this purpose was signed by the two governments on June 21, 2011.

Indian Diaspora

108. The origin of the Indian community in Myanmar is traced back to the mid-19th

century with the advent of the British rule in Lower Burma in 1852. The two cities of Myanmar namely, Yangon (former Rangoon) and Mandalay had a dominating presenceof Indians in various fields such as civil services, education, trade & commerce during the British rule. According to 1983 official census of Myanmar the number of PIOs in Myanmar is 428,428 and the estimated number of stateless PIOs is to be 250,000. A large number of the Indian community (nearly 150,000) live in Bago (Zeyawaddy & Kyautaga) and Tanintharyi Regions and Mon State and are primarily engaged in farming. The NRI families in Myanmar mainly live in Yangon and are engaged in export import business or are employees of MNCs based in India, Singapore and Thailand.

Cooperation In Regional Forums

109. ASEAN. Myanmar became a member of ASEAN in July 1997. As the only ASEAN country which shares a land border with India, Myanmar is a bridge between India and ASEAN. A few proposals for cooperation have been implemented and some are under discussions with Myanmar within the framework of ASEAN's IAI programme.

110. BIMSTEC. Myanmar became a member of BIMSTEC in December 1997. Myanmar is a signatory to the BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement. Myanmar is the lead country for the energy sector. Myanmar trades mostly with Thailand and India in the BIMSTEC region. Myanmar's major exports to India are agricultural products like beans, pulses and maize and forest products such as teak and hardwoods. Its imports from India include chemical products, pharmaceuticals, electrical appliances and transport equipment. The 13th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting was held in Myanmar in January 2011.

111. Mekong Ganga Cooperation. Myanmar is a member of the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) since its inception in November 2000. MGC is an initiative by six countries - India and five ASEAN countries namely, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam - for cooperation in the fields of tourism, education, culture, transport and communication. The chairmanship of MGC is assumed by member countries in alphabetical order.

112. SAARC. Myanmar was given the status of observer in SAARC in August 2008.

Defence Cooperation

113. Defence cooperation between India and Myanmar is an important facet of bilateral relations. Indian Military chiefs have visited Myanmar in the past and exchanged views on issues of mutual interest.. There have been regular port calls by Indian naval ships to Myanmar ports. As far as naval hardware is concerned, in 2006, India announced transfer of two BN-2 'Defender' Islander maritime surveillance aircraft and deck-based air-defence guns to the Myanmar Navy. There were plans to help Myanmar establish a naval aviation training centre in Myanmar. Further, Myanmar Navy has regularly participated in the Milan meetings held at Port Blair in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. During these events, Myanmar is represented either by a senior naval officer or a naval delegation or on occasions by a naval ship. Military training too has been an agenda of bilateral defence cooperation. In 2006, the Indian Army had offered special warfare training for Myanmar soldiers. As far as other military hardware is concerned, the Indian Army transferred a few light artillery guns and Armoured Personal Carriers (APC).