By Luc Citrinot
Originally posted on August 17, 2012
NEW DELHI- With the lifting of economic sanctions towards Myanmar by the rest of the world, India will not have to hide anymore its strong interest into its Eastern neighbour. In fact, New Delhi signed as far as 2008 an agreement with the military government of Yangon, just a few months after the junta crushed protests from the monks for more democracy. The agreement foresees the construction of a new port in Sittwe, in the Rakhine State in Northwestern Myanmar. The port which will stretches on 70,000 m2 will accommodate ships across the Bay of Bengal on their way to Calcutta, 540 km away from Sittwe. The port is part of a US$ 214 million river and road network project with a new 122 km highway linking this part of Myanmar with the Indian state of Mizoram. The highway alone will cost $140 million.
During a State visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh- the first visit of such a high ranking official in 25 years- India proposes to help building up Myanmar’s infrastructure, especially roads, rail, waterways and air transport. The improvement in relation could double the value of commercial relations between both countries. India estimates that trade could represent up to US$ 2 billion in 2013 compared to 1.3 billion last year. India interest into Myanmar will also help counter the growing influence of Asia’s other giant, China.
India is now stepping further its help towards its impoverished neighbour. In an interview to the Thai daily the Nation, India Ambassador to Thailand Anil Wadhwa confirmed that Delhi agreed on a US$ 500-million loan to help build 3,200 km of highways linking India and Thailand via Myanmar. This financial contribution will help to develop the 3,200 km-long highway. The road will start from India’s northeastern states into Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city. It will then go further into Chiang Rai. Other sources of funding will include the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.
“The trilateral highway project will play a crucial role in boosting trade and investment flows in the three countries, creating jobs and other benefits”, said India Ambassador which confirmed that a feasibility study of the trilateral highway has already been completed. The project is due for completion by 2016.
Photo Credit: Google Images, Jean-Marie Hullot