Foreign Min to visit Myanmar: trade, economy high on list

New Delhi: In a first high-level official visit from India since the civilian government took over in Mynamnar, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna will travel to Yangon on Monday to enhance bilateral cooperation in key areas.

Official sources said the three-day visit will focus on a number of issues relating to bilateral relation with Myanmar, which is now ruled by the first civilian government after several years of military rule.

They said commerce and economic relations will be high on agenda. Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao will be accompanying the Minister.

Krishna is expected to call on the country`s President, Vice President and the Speaker besides holding delegation- level talks with his counterpart.

India attaches great significance to its ties with Mynamar, given its strategic location in the region and proximity to China.

India and Myanmar share a long land border of over 1,600 km and a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.

Incidentally, according to 1983 official census of Myanmar the number of PIOs in Myanmar is 428,428 and the estimated number of stateless PIOs is 250,000.

Bilateral trade has expanded significantly from USD 12.4 million in 1980-81 to USD 1.2 billion.

The trade turnover had shot up 2009-10, doubling just in two years. India is the fourth largest trading partner of Myanmar after Thailand, Singapore and China.

India`s imports from Myanmar are dominated by agricultural items (beans, pulses and forest based products form 90 per cent of our imports).

India`s main exports to Myanmar are primary and semi-finished steel and pharmaceuticals.

The recent years have also seen a concerted effort to increase Indian investment in Myanmar through the mechanism of Government credit lines, officials said.

India is the thirteenth largest investor with an investment estimated at USD 189 million in five projects.

Indian investment ranges from oil and gas sector to hydroelectric power, railways, electric power among others.

Indian investments also include the USD 120 million Kaladan Multi-Modal Project, involving the development of the Kaladan River as a bilateral highway and the Sittwe Port in Rakhine State of Myanmar and the USD 20 million credit line for TATA Motors to set up a heavy truck assembly plant in Myanmar.

An ADSL project for high speed data link in 32 Myanmar cities has been completed by TCIL. RITES is involved in development of the rail transportation system and supplying of diesel engines.

Officials said Indian government is actively involved in over a dozen projects in Myanmar, both in infrastructural and other developmental areas.