Home Insider Insider News Soft Launch of India Myanmar Chamber of Commerce

Soft Launch of India Myanmar Chamber of Commerce

An India Myanmar Chamber of Commerce has been formed in Yangon with support from the Indian Embassy in Myanmar and has the Indian Ambassador, His Excellency Mr Vikram Misri, as the patron.

This comes close on the heels of the highprofile visit of the Indian Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, in September 2017, and the Chamber had a soft launch on 1st November 2017. The formal launch will take place in February-March 2018. The Chamber is being led by the President, Sunil Seth, CEO of India’s Adani Group in Myanmar, and has appointed two vice-presidents, a secretary and a treasurer. An executive committee has also been formed, to formulate policies and strategies and comprises of chief executives of both Indian and Myanmar companies.

The primary objective of the Chamber is to bolster trade between the countries and help improve economic ties even further. The Chamber creates a platform for Indian and Myanmar companies and organizations to get acquainted with business operations of each, interact and explore potential business opportunities. While focussing on all businesses, the Chamber is creating four verticals, namely, agri commodities, pharmaceuticals, power and infrastructure, and soft skills and information technology.

The President, Sunil Seth, stated that current trade between India and Myanmar amounts to USD 2 billion, and the Chamber would like to scale it up to 4-5 billion USD in the next two to three years. Given the proximity of the two countries, this is an achievable target, and India will no longer lag behind Myanmar’s other neighbours, Thailand and China, or even other Asian countries like Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Mr Seth feels that both countries can add value to each other with their large pool of labour and rich natural resources. There is potential beyond agro products and fish exports to India, which offers a ready market of over 1.2 billion people. Similarly, Myanmar’s imports can extend beyond pharmaceuticals, steel and machinery, with its emerging middle class, and numerous developmental projects taking off.

Within a month of its launch, the IMCC has registered over 60 members and numerous, other Myanmar companies have shown interest in joining. These include large Indian companies already having a presence in Myanmar, and a number of medium and small Myanmar companies interested to explore business opportunities in India. Already, there have been a series of meetings, each focussed on information sharing on specific issues like the new tax regime, and keynote speakers selected, are experts in those fields. Tying up with India’s CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), and FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) are on the anvil.

A chamber of commerce is similar to a board of trade, or business network comprising local organizations that come together to jointly find ways of furthering business interests in respective geographies. Its is always a non-governmental body that can help influence policy changes to suit the changing business environment. Organizations like the India Myanmar. Chamber of Commerce, facilitate setting up of businesses with other countries, finding the right partners, explore new opportunities, gain insights into the nuances of doing business in unknown territories, and find larger markets beyond their own borders. Other countries that have set up chambers of commerce in Myanmar include the U.S., Britain, Australia, Italy, France, Germany, EU, and a few others.

A peep into India-Myanmar economic ties

India enjoys a locational advantage with Myanmar, with four of its northeastern states, Mizoram, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland sharing a boundary with it. A 1600-km border as well as a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal offer easy transfer of goods etc between the two countries. Unfortunately, physical linkages and infrastructure between the two, is poor. The World Bank Index on ease of trading across borders for both nations is also low. Connectivity by air and sea is also limited despite the proximity.

There is a long history of India Myanmar relations which bind the two with shared religious and cultural practices. However, the relations can improve significantly, to the advantage of both, with clearer and more consistent policies. Both countries have a large work force and rich natural resources. Trade business between the two amounts to approximately 2 billion USD, but is way lower than trade with other South Asian nations.

Indian imports from Myanmar can extend beyond the present agri and seafood, and the latter can benefit from India’s expertise in setting up industries, building infrastructure, manpower development and so much more. A common culture and mindset will facilitate the learning.

In the last two years, efforts are being made to improve these ties with high profile visits from both sides, India’s ‘look east’ policy, and the India Myanmar Friendship Raod, are some of the initiatives that will pave the way for better ties. The India Myanmar Chamber of Commerce is one more step in this direction.