The 6th India-Myanmar Joint Trade Committee (JTC) Meeting was held on 27 June 2017 at New Delhi. The meeting was co-chaired by Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Commerce & Industry from India and Dr. Than Myint, Union Commerce Minister from Myanmar. The Joint Trade Committee plays a key role in facilitating issues related to the enhancement of the bilateral economic partnership between the two countries.
Speaking on the occasion, Sitharaman stated that both the countries have a long history of shared religious, linguistic and ethnic ties:
- Myanmar is India’s gateway to South East Asia and ASEAN with which India is seeking greater economic integration through ‘Act East’ Policy.
- Myanmar shares a long land border of over 1600 Kms with India as well as a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.
- The bilateral relationship between the two countries has been further strengthened by the high-level exchanges.
- Prime Minister of India visited Myanmar in November 2014 for the Twelfth India-ASEAN Summit while the state counsellor of Myanmar visited India in October 2016.
Besides this, trade and commerce play a significant role in the bilateral relationship between the two countries. India’s trade with Myanmar grew by 6.01% from USD 2.05 billion in 2015 -16 to USD 2.18 billion in 2016-17. The total export achieved in 2016-17 was 1.11 USD billion, reflecting an annual growth of 3.79% while the import stood at 1.06 USD Billion showing a growth of 8.43%.
Main Highlights of the Trade meet
• Sitharaman stated that the bilateral trade between the two countries has a much larger untapped potential and she sought the cooperation from Myanmar in actively pursuing enhanced road, sea and air connectivity between the two countries.
• Further, highlighting the progress made by India in various components of the Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project, she sought the cooperation of the Myanmar to expedite work on their side.
• She also highlighted the need for the Myanmar side to allow expeditious completion of the inland waterway works linking the Port of Sittwe to the Myanmar hinterland.
• She also drew the attention of Myanmar to an expeditious negotiation of a Motor Vehicle Agreement bilaterally that would facilitate seamless movement of cargo vehicles between the countries.
• Discussions were also held on exploring the feasibilities of direct shipping lines with Sittwe port and Vizag/ Chennai.
• The need for direct air connectivity with Chennai/ Guwahati was also discussed.
• Noting the progress made on border trade, the Minister also sought cooperation from Myanmar side on quick finalisation of the Mode of Operation(MoO) for making the Border Haats functional on the ‘India-Myanmar border’.
• It was noted that 10 points spread across 4 states including Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur, have been identified for operationalising Border Haats. Both sides also agreed to explore opening of two new Border Trade Points at Pangkhuwa and Zoninpuri.
• Both sides also agreed to deepen their engagements in some of the mutually identified core sectors such as Health Care and Textiles.
Besides this, the Minister also requested the Government of Myanmar and its business community to actively partner in India’s initiatives to strengthen its manufacturing capacities such as ‘Make in India’ and stated that India is also ready for a similar move in Myanmar.
Further, Sitharaman also expressed hope that together both the countries would be able to deepen their manufacturing capabilities, learn from each other’s experiences and create a better regional platform for trade and commerce.