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India – Myanmar connections ready by 2016:Indian Minister

According to the Indian’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Vijay Singh, two major projects connecting India with Myanmar and further to south East Asia are expected to be completed by 2016. Singh, who is also the minister for the North East India, said on Friday that ” The Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport project and the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral high- way will bring huge trade and investment benefits to North East India as they will both allow increased access to the growing econo- mies in Southeast Asia.”

The Kaladan project will connect the eastern Indian seaport of Calcutta with Myanmar’s Sittway port while the 3,200 kilometers highway will run from Moreh in India’s Ma- nipur State, through Mandalay and Yangon, and end in Mae Sot, Thailand.

India and Myanmar signed a framework agreement regarding the Kaladan project in 2008, while the highway project came out of a trilateral ministerial meeting in Yangon in 2002, but it has been met with a large num- ber of delays since its inceptions. India has given a $500 million loan to Myanmar, some of which will be used to fund the highway, and both governments has been implement- ing so far the various projects especially in the border areas. Myanmar president Thein Sein and two prime ministers of India and Thailand meet for the trilateral highway projects on the sidelines of ASEAN regional summit and world economic forums which were held in Nay Pyi Taw in 2013.

The trilateral highway project will allow freight and container trucks to move across the borders from India to Myanmar and Thailand via Chiang Rai and border towns. The trilateral highway, which is also being funded by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, will open up India’s north- eastern states to South-east Asia. The road would benefit India’s northeastern region as well, as four Indian states are on the border with Myanmar.

At present, trade between India and ASEAN stands at $80 billion. Following the imple- mentation of FTA in goods, trade grew by 41 per cent in 2011-12. PM Manmohan Singh said trade between India and ASEAN will exceed $100 billion by 2015 and set a target of reaching $200 billion over the next de- cade. India, whose services sector contrib- utes about 55% in the country’s economic growth, was very keen to enter the ASEAN market as it will help Indian companies tap the markets easily.