Myanmar Prez’s India visit opens new avenues of partnership

Welcoming President Win Myint at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on his first-ever trip to India, President Kovind said that Myanmar stands at the confluence of the Indian Government's ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East Policy’

March 1, 2020

There has also been a steady rise in commercial activities between the two nations with bilateral trade totaling at US$1.7 billion during 2018-19, 70 per cent being Indian export

India is Myanmar’s 11th biggest source of foreign investment at US$771.5 million from over 30 Indian enterprises. Around 13 Indian PSUs are present in Myanmar in different sectors

India’s has provided developmental assistance of over US$1.8 billion to Myanmar and is willing to expand ties in the areas of energy, transportation, digital connectivity, tourism

India shares a long land border of more than 1,600 km with Myanmar apart from a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal that has aided the development of connectivity projects

At the invitation of the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, U Win Myint, paid a state visit to India over February 26-29 2020. On the official visit, President Win Myint was accompanied by the First Lady, Daw Cho Cho, as well as a team of ministers, senior government officials, and a business delegation. The visit came amid growing exchanges between the two neighboring nations that currently span across maritime and defence to skill training and STEM research and development.

There has also been a steady rise in commercial activities between the two nations with bilateral trade totaling at US$1.7 billion during 2018-19, 70 per cent being Indian export.

Welcoming President Win Myint at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on his first-ever trip to India, President Kovind said that Myanmar stands at the confluence of the Indian Government’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East Policy.’ The partnership between the two countries is at the heart of India’s vision to build a connected neighbourhood to deliver equitable development in the region. To this end, India is providing more aid, including the development of training centres and new socio-economic infrastructure in rural Myanmar. To date, India has provided developmental assistance worth more than US$1.8 billion to Myanmar and is willing to expand its ties in key areas of energy, transportation, digital connectivity, tourism, and culture.  

Ties built on strong connectivity 

During his visit, President Win Myint met with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar. During the interactions, the leaders discussed a vast range of bilateral, regional and international issues, and welcomed the synergies between Myanmar’s independent and non-aligned foreign policy and India’s Asia and neighbourhood-focussed initiatives. India-Myanmar relationship has been strengthened on the back of various policies as well as projects to boost connectivity between the nations. Both countries are now working to enhance the transportation network between Mandalay, the second-largest city in Myanmar, and the Northeastern Indian States through air and road and waterways.

India shares a long land border of more than 1,600 km with Myanmar as well as a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal. Four northeastern states – Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram – have a boundary with Myanmar. To make the most of the geographical advantages, the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Corridor connecting Myanmar’s Sittwe Port with Kolkata port is nearing completion. The project includes road connectivity from Zorinpuri in Mizoram until the Sittwe port via Paletwa in Myanmar. A Special Economic Zone is also being developed near the port. Meanwhile, the India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway, connecting Manipur to Bangkok, via Myanmar, is expected to be completed by 2021. 

In another development, a trilateral highway is to be further extended to connect Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in the next phase. Such projects are key to power the region’s economic growth – currently the fastest in the world, on which rest global trade and investment interests. Additionally, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor and highway network that connects Kolkata, Dhaka, Silchar, Imphal, Mandalay, Baoshan and Kunming, and covering a length of more than 2,800 km, is a part of the mega connectivity plan. To build opportunities along with the new infrastructure, India has been assisting Myanmar in the area of higher education, industrial training, and capacity building to support the rapidly-growing economy. 

Partnerships to aid future growth

With the infrastructure and human resources, as well as improved market, financing mechanisms, and trading agreements, the two nations aim to usher in economic prosperity. India and Myanmar’s trade relations currently span agriculture, manufacturing, fuel, and energy, among other key industries. Apart from the growth in trade, India is Myanmar’s 11th biggest source of foreign investment at US$771.5 million from over 30 Indian enterprises as of November 2019. Around 13 Indian PSUs also have a presence in Myanmar in different sectors. While trade and investments have been led mainly by pharmaceuticals, energy, food, defence and IT, tourism has seen strong uptake with over 38,000 Indians visitings Myanmar in 2019. 

President Win Myint’s visit saw the signing of 10 new agreements that will further expand the scope of collaboration between the two nations The agreements include:

S.NoMoU/Agreement
1MoU on cooperation for the prevention of human trafficking
2Agreement on Indian Grant Assistance for implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIP)
3Agreement for the development of essential infrastructure under the Rakhine State Development Programme
4Agreement on solar electricity under the Rakhine State Development Program
5Agreement for construction of roadways under the Rakhine State Development Program
6Agreement for construction of pre-schools under Rakhine State Development Programme
7MoU for cooperation on combating timber trafficking, and conservation of tigers and other wildlife
8MoU for cooperation in the field of petroleum products
9MoU on cooperation in the field of communication
10.MoU for cooperation in the field of health research between Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Department of Medical Research (DMR), Myanmar

Beyond the scope of bilateral cooperation, strong confidence between India and Myanmar has led to successful partnerships on multilateral platforms such as the UN, ASEAN, BIMSTEC, Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, among others. This has allowed collaborations to impact a diverse set of people. During their stay, President U Win Myint and the Myanmar delegation also visited places of historical and cultural importance, including Bodh Gaya and Agra. Building on shared heritage, India has undertaken key steps in the restoration of historical and religious sites across Myanmar. India has also completed work on restoring and renovating two historic temples in Bodh Gaya built by Myanmarese rulers.