Border markets slated for Chin State
Wholesale markets are to be established along the border with India that officials say will give a boost to Chin State trade.
HIGH-LEVEL diplomacy seems to have yielded prompt action, as India and the local authorities of Chin State prepare to set up wholesale centres to stimulate trade on both sides of the border.
The preparations follow the meeting last week between State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Chin State government has already sprung into action.
State Planning and Finance Minister U Wee Kaw told The Myanmar Times that commodities exchanges will open in towns along the Indian border.
“We’re planning with India to open border markets. Discussions are proceeding about four or five locations, on both sides of the border.”
On the Chin State side, the centres are thought likely to open in Tonzang, Falam, Matupi and Htantlang townships, he said.
The opening of the border is expected to increase job opportunities for local residents as goods begin to flow, said U Wee Kaw.
“It will be good for both sides to establish these wholesale centres,” he said.
The main commodities to be traded are expected to include local farm crops and animal husbandry products.
The new facilities will expand trade currently being carried on along the Htantalang route.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, India-Myanmar trade amounted to more than US$1.7 billion last fiscal year, with a slight surplus on the Myanmar side since 2011-12. However, trade with India is less than that with Myanmar’s other neighbours.
The minister said India had also offered help with improving bridges to ease transportation difficulties.
The state counsellor was on her first official visit to New Delhi where she attended the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and the economic grouping of five nations known as BRICS.
Though Myanmar shares a border – and cultural and historical links –with both India and China, analysts have long noted its far more extensive economic ties to Beijing.
Pledges by New Delhi in recent years to “look east” to Southeast Asia have been criticised as more talk than action.
On her three-day trip to India, which ended on October 19, the state counsellor and Mr Modi agreed to remove obstacles to trade so as to promote commerce and investment on both sides.
They also agreed to hold early joint meetings to maintain momentum on the expansion of border trade, including seeking improvements at the border crossing at Tamu-Moreh.
India, a huge customer for Myanmar’s beans and pulses, also wants to help Myanmar develop research into different varieties of beans.
‘It will be good for both sides to establish these wholesale centres.’
U Wee Kaw Planning and finance ministry
Officials are hoping that local produce in Chin State will receive a boost with the development of border markets.