May 292012

Yangon, May 29 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, said Myanmar is playing a vital role of an economic bridge between India and China and between South and South-East Asia and it is an essential partner in India’s “Look East” policy.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh said,”We should work together to create a regional economy that can become a hub for trade, investment and communication in the region. Better communication is the best way of promoting economic integration and there is much we can do to revive and build arteries of communication.”

Dr. Singh in his address to think-tank’s and business community at an event organized by Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Myanmar Development Resource Institute in Yangon on India and Myanmar: A Partnership for Progress and Regional Development.

“Our two Governments have agreed to cooperate in a number of road building projects. I hope that the very symbolic Trilateral Highway that will connect India, Myanmar and Thailand can be fully built by 2016,” he added.

Dr. Singh emphasized that these efforts will give a boost to the local economies and provide livelihood opportunities.

The Prime Minister also said that human resource development is a vital component of development programmes between the two nations.

“I am happy to announce that we have decided to double the number of training slots for Myanmar under our technical assistance programme from 250 to 500 every year. Yesterday we also signed an agreement on the setting up of the Myanmar Institute of Information Technology, which will boost capacity in the ICT sector in Myanmar,” he added.

Dr. Singh, who held discussions with Myanmar’s democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi here earlier today on the last day of his historic visit, is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Myanmar in 25 years.

“Trade will expand and be brought within the ambit of the law. These measures will also help curb the activities of insurgent groups and other criminal elements in these areas,” he added.

Stating that Indian industry is showing increasing interest in Myanmar, Dr. Singh said: ” In order to exploit the full potential of our economic relationship, we need to facilitate trade and investment. Bilateral banking arrangements need to be established to ease financial transactions. I am glad that United Bank of India is in the process of opening its representative office in Myanmar.”

“I am confident that we can surpass our total trade target of US $3 billion by the year 2015. But we need to diversify our trade basket. India can import more agricultural produce, coal and other minerals and export heavy industrial items, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and textiles,” he added.

Dr. Singh said India is implementing the Kaladan multimodal transport project that involves upgrading the Sittwe port and constructing a highway to connect the town of Paletwa in Chin state to the Indian border in Mizoram state.

“This flagship project will revitalize the economy of the area and link it with important commercial and shipping arteries. We hope to complete it by 2015,” said Dr. Singh.

“Initiatives like BIMSTEC and Mekong Ganga Cooperation provide a platform for enhanced regional cooperation and connectivity,” he added.

The Prime Minister said both India and Myanmar have also agreed to cooperate in the development of the border regions that link the two sides.

“The Government of Myanmar has invited us to assist in the development of two areas contiguous to our border, namely the Naga Self Administered Zone of the Sagaing Region and the Chin State. We hope to implement small development projects that have been successful elsewhere,” said Dr. Singh.

“Yesterday we agreed to set up several border markets, beginning with the one at Pangsau, on the border of Arunachal Pradesh in India and Sagaing in Myanmar. We are working to develop border infrastructure, including the Rhi-Tiddim road that will enable greater cross-border links and trade between Mizoram and Chin state,” he added.

Dr. Singh said that to jumpstart commercial transactions, India has offered a US dollar 500 million Line of Credit to Myanmar for which an MOU was signed yesterday.

Stating that the energy sector is an area of great potential for cooperation, Dr. Singh said: “There is a long historical association between the oil sectors of our two countries going back to the days of Burmah Shell. India’s known oil reserves in its North-East and the adjacent region of north and western Myanmar belong to the same geological terrain.”

“We should upgrade our cooperation to a comprehensive energy partnership, which would include sharing of Indian expertise and capacity-building,” he added. (ANI)

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