Thursday, July 8, 2010

Burma Trade Routes

Burma shares a 1,643 km long border with the four Indian States – Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram and provides immense opportunity, for India’s North-Eastern landlocked states, road access to mainland of Southeast Asia (Indo-China in a wider sense). After the completion of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport (KMMT) project, containers from Kolkata could reach India’s Northeast Region via Burma – an alternative convoluted route from Kolkata to Aizawal that is cheaper and quicker. This region has been historically influenced by Indian and Chinese culture in varying degrees. The ASEAN countries are estimated to have a combined population of 570 million. A recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers report, released in April 2010, expects India to produce the most number of MNC overtaking China as the World’s largest source of new MNCs. Burma assumes greater significance in World Politics and Economics; and China and India have realized this in the last two decades. For China, apart from offering similar trade opportunities to that of India, Burma offers a quick and easy access to the Bay of Bengal bypassing the narrow Strait of Malacca. This access could become crucial if India and China enter into a conventional war. However development in this region will attract its own share of perils, the three important ones being drugs, illegal immigrants and illegal trade of arms.

Operational Trade Routes

1. Moreh – Tamu. Moreh is about 110km, on NH 39, from the capital Imphal, Manipur. Bridge construction over the river Khujairok is underway as is border fencing in that area. Tamu is connected to Mandalay and Tachileik on the Thailand border. Improving this route will help India and Thailand bolster their trade. 160Km Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo road in Burma is being improved by India.

Proposed Trade Routes

1. Kadalan Multi-Modal Transport (KMMT): India is investing in Burma to develop the Burmese port city of Sittwe. Consignments could travel from Kolkata to Sittwe and then leave to the Northeaster Indian states on road via Burma into Mizoram and eventually into the other sister states. With this multi-modal transport, India will effectively bypass using Bangladesh territory.

2. In 2007 India agreed to setup five Border Trade Centers (BTC) along the border in Nagaland to promote trade and commercial activities.

3. In January 2010, Burma proposed to open the old Stilwell Road, connecting Assam to Burma and China.

References:

1. http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/devangshu-datta-road-to-north-east-via-burma/397101/

2. http://news.rediff.com/column/2010/apr/26/what-india-must-do-in-myanmar-and-how.htm

3. http://kaladan.com/kaladan-project/kaladan-mmtt-project/

4. http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/feature/border-villages-of-manipur-gateway-for-trade_100363167.html

5. http://pad16.com/sea_broken/myanmar/burmaroad.htm

6. http://www.indoburmanews.net/archives-1/2007/april/centre-approves-border-trade-centers-for-nagaland/

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