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India setting up 9 border trade points with Myanmar

Keen to boost border trade between Northeast India and the neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, the Indian government is setting up nine border haats or markets along the border with Myanmar, a top official said on Wednesday.

Addressing the inauguration of the Eighth Delhi Dialogue here, Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), also said that negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) mega trade agreement are going on satisfactorily. He said that with the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership deal, between 12 nations, becoming a reality, it is essential to conclude the RCEP soon.

In his keynote address, Wadhwa said that under an MoU on border haats along the India-Myanmar border, inked in 2012, it has been agreed to set up nine border haats in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.

“We have two Land Customs Stations at Tamu-Moreh in Manipur and Rhi-Zowkhathar in Mizoram, and the Land Customs Station at Moreh (Manipur) is being upgraded into an Integrated Check Post,” said Wadhwa at the Delhi Dialogue, an annual track 1.5 event to discuss bilateral issues between India and the ASEAN (Association of South-east Asian Nations).

On the RCEP, being negotiated between the 10-member ASEAN and its six Free Trade Agreement partners, including India, the official said: “If the technical negotiations which are underway are completed swiftly, RCEP may turn into a dynamic reality very soon, particularly if we succeed in forming regional value chains and production networks. With the TPP becoming a reality, expediting RCEP is in our interest.”

The US, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations have arrived at an agreement on the TPP mega trade deal.

The 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six Free Trade Agreement partners — India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand — are negotiating the RCEP, which is expected to be inked by the year end.

He said ASEAN is India’s fourth-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade between both sides crossing $76.53 billion in 2014-15. Among the ASEAN members, Indonesia is the largest trading partner of India, with bilateral trade of $19.03 billion in 2014-15, followed by Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Wadhwa said that boosting trade with ASEAN is a priority under the new Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN-India partnership for peace, progress and shared prosperity (2016-20).

The Plan of Action envisages a number of steps in the areas of trade and investment, finance, transport, food, agriculture, forestry, information and communication technology, tourism, science, technology and innovation, and mining and natural resources management, he added.

He said a significant achievement has been completion of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area with the entry into force of the ASEAN-India Agreements on Trade in Services and Investment on July 1, 2015.

“So far, India, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand have ratified the agreements. Lao PDR has ratified the Agreement on Trade in Services. We request you to use your good offices to encourage the remaining ASEAN countries to ratify the Agreement at an early date,” he said.

Wadhwa said the ASEAN-India Trade Negotiating Committee has been tasked to undertake a review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement, which came into effect on January 1, 2010, in order to optimize its utilisation and bring it up-to-date with today’s standards.

On the connectivity projects being undertaken, the official said the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multi-modal Project are progressing. “We are also at the final stages of a Motor Vehicles Agreement between India, Myanmar and Thailand which will address soft connectivity issues,” he pointed out.

The Trilateral Highway, a 3,200 km highway, would link Moreh via Mandalay city (Myanmar) to Mae Sot in Thailand, when it is ready by 2018.

 

Source: The State Man

 

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