Expanding trade with India

INDIA has formed a Myanmar chamber of commerce in Yangon to boost trade and forge closer economic ties with the country. The move follows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit here on September 5-7 and also comes after India imposed import restrictions on Myanmar’s pulses and beans last month.

Currently, trade between the two countries amounts to around US$2 billion.

“Considering the proximity and size of both our economies, India’s trade with Myanmar is still very much lagging behind China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and even Singapore.

“Our primary objective is to double trade to around US$4-$5 billion over the next 2-3 years.” – Sunil Seth, Indo-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce

“We want to focus on helping Indian businesses invest in Myanmar and vice versa.

“Considering that both our countries are rich in resource and labour, the fact that trade is lagging is a big concern for India. That’s why we have started the IMCC, which is represented by large Indian corporations, as well as small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs based in Myanmar, to promote more trade with Myanmar,” he continued.

The companies include steel and energy conglomerate TATA International, where Mr Sunil is country head, car maker Mahindra and Mahindra, and tractor manufacturer Escorts Group.

“It is the right time to expand in Myanmar now that the new Investment Law and Companies Act have come in. We are very bullish on this country.

“The country’s image may be impacted [affected] if the situation in Rakhine continues over the long term, but we are positive that this will be resolved,” Mr Sunil added.

Expanding trade

Myanmar’s exports to India mainly comprise of crops and fish. Currently, more than 80 percent of its annual 1.2 million tonne pulse and bean produce is exported to India, according to Mr Sunil’s estimates. Meanwhile, the country also imports pharmaceutical products, steel and machinery from India.

India plans to expand its products and services in the domestic agriculture scene.

“India has huge experience in agriculture. We can help to improve the quality of Myanmar seeds and crop so that it can export to other markets as well as India,” said Mr Sunil.

Myanmar exports most of its crops raw and very little is spent on research to raise quality. India is also the single largest export destination for Myanmar’s black matpe beans, which are used to make dahl, a staple food in India.

“The beans produced in Myanmar have a unique taste that appeals to Indian palettes. That is why India is very much dependent on Myanmar for black matpe as well as pigeon peas,” said Mr Sunil.

Last month, the local industry took a hit when India slapped import restrictions on Myanmar’s pulses and beans, a move that sparked concern across the domestic pulse and bean supply chain. However, if the crops are of better quality, Myanmar would be able to export to alternative markets in the future.

Forging business ties

India will also increase its efforts to support the Myanmar power and infrastructure sector. “We have become very efficient in producing solar energy over the last few years. We know that Myanmar is looking at renewable energy as one of the way to meet its power shortage and India can certainly help in this area,” said Mr Sunil. India can also help support Myanmar’s power transmission and distribution infrastructure.

India wants to increase its presence in the infrastructure space. It has already extended a government loan to Myanmar for the construction of a trilateral highway linking India, Myanmar and Thailand. An Indian, company, Punj Loyd, has been awarded a contract to help upgrade portions of the highway. Indian companies are also involved in the building and maintenance of the Sittwe Port and Paletwa Inland Water Transport Terminal.

In Myanmar, skills in areas such as information technology and nursing are in demand. India is aiming to fill the gap in this respect, too. Meanwhile, India will also increase its presence in the domestic pharmaceutical market.

“These are the skill sets in which India is very strong in so we can certainly expand trade in these few areas,” said Mr Sunil.

“We are very bullish about growing our presence in this country.”

Source : Myanmar Times

To see the original Myanmar Times article click link here

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