TODAY -

Indo-Myanmar relationship on bilateral and economic cooperation

T Haokip *

Moreh - Border Town between Manipur and Myanmar in December 2012
Moreh - Border Town between Manipur and Myanmar in December 2012 :: Pix - Daniel Chabungbam



Relationship changes in the lives of individuals as well as of nations. Since attaining independence from the British rule Indo-Myanmar relationship have seen many ups and downs. From 1948-1962 relation was friendly and cordial during the days of Prime Minister Nehru and Prime Minister U Nu. But from 1962-1988 relations virtually froze with the military rule under Ne win adopting an isolationist policy. Domestic policies including the expulsion of ethnic Indians soured the relations. Then from 1988 as a result of the sympathy of the Indian government to the pro democracy movement which started in 1988, the relations were completely strained.

In 1993, India reversed its stance with a more realistic and pragmatic policy and started engaging the military regime in open dialogue. Since then the relations have been growing steadily save for a minor hiccup in 1995 when Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nehru Peace Price for International Understanding. The visit of Maung Aye, Vice Chairman SPDC, the second most powerful military junta leader in November 2000, changed the entire scenario. There has been all round progress in political, economic and military relations as well as cooperation in technology, HRD, infrastructure, education, space, health and other fields.

The first Border Trade Agreement was signed in Delhi in January 1994 and was implemented in April 1995 with the opening of a cross border point between Moreh (India) and Tamu, (Myanmar). The border trade which had a spurt in the beginning with export of Indian goods worth Rupees 31 crore and imports from Myanmar worth Rs 15 crore in 1996-97 had declined to a level of Rupees 5 crore in export and import by 2004-05 according to official statistics. As of today the trade value is a dismal one crore only. Trans-border trade has failed to provide any benefit to local people and there are procedural hiccups for obtaining licenses as well apart from the failure of law and order and absence of proper infra-structures.

The 160 Km India-Myanmar Friendship road on Burmese territory from Tamu to Kalemyo to Kalewa was built by the Border Roads Organisation and completed in 2001. India is involved in the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project. Further, the high point in the bilateral relations was the visit of Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman, State Peace and Development Council in October 2004. To reciprocate, the Indian President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam visited Myanmar in March 2006 which was a landmark as this was the first head of State visit to Myanmar after 1987 when Rajiv Gandhi visited Myanmar.

A number of agreements and Memorandums of Understanding were signed during this visit.

ASEAN factor : Myanmar became a member of ASEAN in 1997. As the only ASEAN country which shares a land and maritime boundary with India, Myanmar is the gateway to ASEAN. The Ministry Of External Affairs has indicated that a few proposals for cooperation are under discussion with Myanmar.

China Factor : China and Myanmar have been close allies since the time PRC came into being. For Myanmar, China's substantial economic, military and political support is vital in view of the sanctions imposed by the West and the mounting pressure by the regional and international forum. The Chinese have built an all weather road from Kunming in Southern China to Mandalay in Central Myanmar and volume of trade has increased hundredfold. It has been proved beyond doubt that economic sanctions have not deterred the military regime in pursuing its agenda.

Hence a policy of diplomatic persuasion and economic aid linked with progress in democratic reforms may be a viable solution for India.

While India's concerns are understandable, Myanmar must have also realised that it is being stifled by China and must look for an alternative in India, particularly in view of India's rising economic potential and mutual strategic and security interests. Despite India's improving relations with China, the China factor does have an impact on India's relations with Myanmar. However it is also in Myanmar's interests to have an alternative source in India for its economic better-ment.

Thus, the strategic and security considerations outweigh India's concern for democracy in Myanmar.

Broad features of Indo-Myanmar Border Trade :

The Indo-Burma treaty of 1952 on Border Affairs was designed to ensure free movement of the local ethnic tribals for meeting their daily socio-economic needs.

There was a tacit understanding that the tribal population on both sides of the international border who belong to the same ethnic group will be allowed free passage within 40 Km on both side for the purpose of carrying on local trade and social visits.

FEATURES OF BORDER TRADE :-

> Special feature of this border trade are :
* Trading in items of daily necessity at local market -
* Trading in commodities of local produces -
* Trading preferably in barter system -
* Trading in head load quantity -
* Trading between dawn to dusk

SOCIAL AND CULTURAL TIES :-

> Special feature in social & customary visits are :-
* Visits for performing social and customary rites & rituals
* Visits in connection with marriages -
* Visits for health reasons -
* Visits for social and religious functions -
* Visits restricted to 40 Km on both sides of the border.

This Treaty Has Been Modified And Renewed From Time To Time To Meet The Changing Need.

After the military junta took over power in Myanmar, and the economic sanction imposed by the Western power in view of the atrocities committed on the democratic movement in that country, India also adopted a close-door policy to Myanmar. However, in view of the recent Chinese economic expansion in Southeast Asia and Myanmar, India recently adopted an open-door policy. However, experience in matter of trade implementation reveals too many stumbling blocks and even with the best intention to overcome them Indian traders find little attraction in continuing legal trade relation with Myanmar.

CONSTRAINTS IN TRADE IMPLEMENTATION :-

> FUNDAMENTAL CONSTRAINTS IN THE GROWTH OF BORDER TRADE ARE :-


* Poor state of infrastructure such as road connectivity, telecommunication facilities, banking and other financial network.
* Dual currency exchange rate system of Myanmar. Example : Official exchange rate of Indian Rupee against Burmese Kt. is Rs.1 = Kt. 0.09
* Unofficial rate of exchange is - Rs.1 : 19 kt
* The overvalued Myanmer currency in the official market is a disincentive for the Indian trader.
* Absence of currency exchange counters is a setback.
* Absence of law and order in the state of Manipur as a whole.
* Too frequent bandhs and road blockade by different organizations.
* Presence of too many militant groups and collection of high illegal taxes.
* Absence of Peace, security and safety in business premises.

GROUND REALITIES OF BORDER TRADE :-

> BARTER TRADE MECHANISM FOR OFFICIAL BORDER TRADE :


* This simply means exchange of goods. Example - Indian trader exporting 5 tons of potato in exchange for importing 3 tons of beetle nut. Goods exchange in value equivalence.
* This system means that the export from one country needs to be balanced by the import of another country in terms of value and volume as per negotiation of the trading parties.
* There is a stipulation that export from India must precede import from Myanmar.
* Balancing export with import is required to be completed within 6 months. This restricted system not only hinder free flow of trade, but puts Indian traders at a disadvantage.
* The narrow range of items identified for official trade is also another important factor restricting the natural trade flow. Only few items are allowed for trade.
* While each country can have their own list of negative list items for export and import the scope of border trade needs to be extended to other items in order to boost up trade.

Conclusion : In spite of the much talk about Look East policy adopted by India there appears to be too many patches of dark clouds which cast shadows of doubt and fear on Indian business men and unless a healthy investment climate is created legal trade between the two neighbours will still remain a distant dream whereas smugglers will continue to thrive and fish in this trouble water of INDO-MYANMAR BORDER for years to come.


* T Haokip (Translated by Tayenjam Bijoykumar) wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is IRS, Commissioner, Customs and Excise, retired
This article was posted on March 11 , 2013



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.


LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Bandh demanding VC removal #1 : Gallery
  • Greater Nagaland or Mini Nagaland ? #1
  • We just need a little bit of luck
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Cry of a Dying River - 37 :: Poem
  • Manipur : Context & Structural Violence
  • Procrastinations and protests
  • Protests against MHRD at New Delhi
  • Scientists from NASA during IIT Techniche
  • Mission 'Go to Village'
  • Even Monkey falls from the tree
  • Lim divide : Strong statement from CM
  • DESAM Protest- remove MU VC : Gallery
  • Konung Kang Chingba #2 : Gallery
  • Unbiased Retake Manipur University Issues
  • BoSEM Imbroglio: Educational smuggling
  • Jobs available in NIELIT centers
  • Commanding Officer-i-c must be punished
  • Public official's escorts assault lawyer
  • Is Govt underestimating MU Community
  • MU impasses : Getting uglier
  • Art Exhibit @Imphal Art College #1 : Gallery
  • HSLC students @ Chalwa, KPI : Gallery
  • Arambam Modhu Kalabhusan-Lairik Haiba
  • Interferences in private school affairs
  • Diagnostic Testing Phases -complexities
  • The Kite Runner :: Poem
  • Call for joint mass protest at New Delhi
  • Manipur CM warns of extreme steps
  • Naga civil society playing key role
  • This will be an Acid test for N. Biren
  • Best option : A graceful exit ..for Pandey
  • Kang Khichri chaba @Kwakeithel : Gallery
  • Plastic Surgery Day @RIMS : Gallery
  • Kang Chingba @Keishampat : Gallery
  • Human rights of women in our society
  • AFSPA Gesture and Better Alternative
  • Leisure :: Poem
  • Restore Life After Burns : Plastic Surgery
  • Konung Kang Chingba #1 : Gallery
  • Dont waste searching for word/phrases
  • Hill People & Merger of Manipur
  • Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 #5
  • U-Mangra for biofuel for economic devpt
  • Painting competition on environment
  • Condemn Moreh terror attack
  • Climbing Shirui Hills, Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • Ichangthoubi, Thotmungchan :: eMing
  • Kang Chingba - Rath Yatra : Book
  • Why the impasse at Manipur University
  • Condolence Message for Tamenglong
  • Maharaj parleys Bizando
  • Opt for fruit/vegetable beauty product
  • DG Assam Rifles meets Governor
  • Recreation - a Serious Business
  • Tuilha Kolt waterfall @Kpi #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Lamjing Meira Ningsing Numit #2 : Gallery
  • Who Created the Border Pillar Conflict ?
  • EEVFAM amidst Numbness and Noise
  • Special Olympics Unified Cup 2018
  • Path for youth's bright future
  • Addressing core issues
  • Students Vs Centre's man : MU
  • Thangjam Manorama Anniversary: Gallery
  • A reflection on POCSO Act, 2012
  • Fear :: Poem
  • War veterans laboured to clean compound
  • Free Career Counselling Program
  • NEFIS writes to University bodies
  • Sit-in-Protest Against House Search
  • 50th World Population Day celebrated
  • Something worrying
  • Congress : 2 days session too short
  • Jadugi Chei :: Funga Wari
  • Tribal protest for MU normalcy : Gallery
  • Framework Agreement: What is it ?
  • Some cairns from the way: Artist's retake #2
  • Cry of a Dying River # 36 :: Poem
  • Overview on Manipur University imbroglio
  • Tribal Students memo to HRD on MU
  • India-Vietnam Film Show 2018 at Delhi
  • Why the CM is helpless ?
  • No end in sight to MU crisis
  • Indo-Myanmar Pillar 81 @Kwatha #1: Gallery
  • Global Bamboo Congress @Beijing : Gallery
  • Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 #4
  • Kamesh Salam : Speaker at BARC, Beijing
  • Career in Cooperatives
  • Nagaland CM's speech at NEC
  • NPF Rejoinder to JD (U) of July 9
  • The Killing Fields - 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Unfair Game
  • Expecting documentary proof from villagers
  • Lamjing Meira Ningsing Numit #1 : Gallery
  • Woken Youth Clubs in season of World Cup
  • Converting tourism potential into reality
  • Let me live in your heart :: Poem
  • D-Jent.... Djentleman... Anyone ?
  • Socialism or destruction of humanity ?
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Demand action against KSO activists
  • Ichangi Laidhi #3 :: eRang
  • Modernizing Manipur University Library
  • In the grip of nothingness :: Poem
  • Password protection - I
  • Congenital Heart Defect operated
  • Hill area bandh relaxed temporarily
  • State & central govt must stop conflict
  • Cohesion is sports
  • Explain 'devious purpose'
  • Willong Khullen, Maram #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur merger agreement 1947
  • Wari Jalsa at New Delhi
  • Congress grass menace in North-East
  • M A Thomas National Human Rights Award
  • What does worry do to us ?
  • Is Manipur a part of India ?
  • Rumours of child lifters : Dangerous
  • List of MLA (Jan 2018) #3 : Gallery
  • Forest Rights Act 2006 -context of Manipur
  • Supreme Court Hearing on EEVFAM case
  • Cry of a Dying River - 35 :: Poem
  • Terirama Th. met South Korea's first lady
  • Securing security cameras: invisible eye
  • Rejoinder to Nagaland CM's statement
  • Meitei Mayek - are the scales tipped now
  • Patronising non-locals : Nail the insiders
  • Tribal University @ Senapati : Gallery
  • Rally to remove MU VC #2 : Gallery
  • Some cairns from the way: Artist's retake #1
  • Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 #3
  • UN experts on 'fake encounter' killings
  • Nagaland CM Rio statement on July 4
  • Condemns inhuman eviction by Govt
  • Trainees Certificate of RPL at Kamrup
  • Minor reunited with mother after 26 days
  • Non-Operative Closure of "hole in the heart"
  • We are for the people, for the society
  • Over 30 days : Centre sleeps, MU 'burns'
  • Thokchom Brindashabi Devi :: Profile
  • Kshetri-bengoon Eviction Protest : Gallery
  • Successive pay commissions: It's impact
  • Research Support @ R-Square Design
  • leingakki thouwong - state terrorism
  • Rebuttal: Interview of Ranju Singh
  • Different forces pulling Manipur : Lim
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #3 : Gallery
  • Some ideas for prevention of flood
  • Satisfaction :: Poem
  • Supreme Court hearing on EEVFAM - 2 July
  • Dark lips .. causes and care
  • Training on Handloom Weaver at Hojai
  • CME on 'Congenital Heart Diseases'
  • Nagaland CM should make his stand clear
  • 2019 LS polls : BJP on the offensive
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #4 : Gallery
  • Naga American conference in California
  • Life of an army officer's daughter
  • The Winter Blues :: Poem
  • 16th Mega Miss North East
  • NDPP on Naga integration
  • Allegations against VC holds no ground
  • Rally to remove MU VC #1 : Gallery
  • July Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • A Washed-Out Summer Vacation in MU
  • Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 #2
  • My short interaction with Penna Donna
  • 9th Men Mega Mister North East
  • Memo submitted to Kiren Rijiju
  • India- no interest to protect its boundary
  • Idea of who is a citizen of the land
  • Poumai Purul Hiimai Paoki #3 : Gallery
  • Dr Thingnam Kishan Memorial : Gallery
  • Black sheep in movement for ILPS #3
  • Our Common Crisis: What are We to Do #2
  • Jackichand Singh signs for FC Goa
  • No co-operation to MU VC
  • Nagaland CM contradicting himself : NPF
  • Career Guidance Workshop at Ukhrul
  • The tales of a forgotten University
  • Pulling at idea of Manipur : Lim, ATC
  • Climbing Shirui Hills, Ukhrul #2 : Gallery
  • Moirangthem Arup: 90 Km Marathon, Africa
  • Pitfalls on land acquisition for Mapithel Dam
  • Chinese dominance in 21st century
  • Caring for the elderly
  • IIT-G's Technothlon prelims at UAE
  • Mass Rally from Manipur University
  • Nagaland CM releases book by teenager
  • Why trying to dictate media time & again
  • MU, border pillar, Citizenship Bill
  • Oinam Dilip's Painting Exhibition
  • Intl Day Against Drug Abuse : Gallery
  • The Manipur Merger Agreement 1949
  • A road to Mandalay
  • Keeping up: medical diagnostics tech
  • The mother of all preventive strategies
  • Relief camps for Flood affected families
  • The dark side of Indian democracy
  • From three time CM to Oppn leader
  • Khumang Pokpa Haraoba #1 : Gallery
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #3 : Gallery
  • Mova Cave, Hungpung, Ukhrul #1 : Gallery
  • Tribal Cultural Festival #2 : Gallery
  • General Thangal Eco Park : Gallery
  • Dzuko valley #4 :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • HSLC 208 Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #2: Gallery
  • Class XII Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS