Time to boost up trade and investment, says Indian president

Time to boost up trade and investment, says Indian president
Indian President Shri Ram Nath Kovind speaking at the event. Photo: Thet Ko/Mizzima

The Indian president says it is time to boost trade and investment relations between India and Myanmar on his landmark visit to Myanmar.

The Indian President Shri Ram Nath Kovind was speaking on 13 December at the 5th Enterprise India-Myanmar Expo - ‘Forging Partnership for SME Collaboration’ - held in Yangon.

Opening the three-day event, the President of India reiterated, “Myanmar has a unique place in India’s Neighborhood First and Look East policies.”   

The event was jointly organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and UMFCCI with the support of both governments and involved over 50 companies. 

The Indian President was upbeat on relations and the potential to improve trade, investment and business ties, which up until recently have tended to be sluggish despite Delhi’s Act East Policy that on paper talks of stepping up relations with nations to the east of India.

With over 1,600 kilometres of land border with the North-Eastern States of India, Myanmar has significant and historical trade ties across the border, which need to be further expanded so that the border regions can benefit. 

Apart from expanding trade, joint ventures in manufacturing in key sectors like agriculture, agro equipment, pharmaceuticals, IT, biotechnology, and infrastructure were emphasized by the President of India in his inaugural address. Noting that India has made considerable strides in promotion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), there are lessons from India that can be adapted to the conditions of Myanmar, particularly in the areas of financial inclusion, skill development, make in India scheme, Start-Up India - incubation and innovation labs and so forth.

India’s growth story has also accompanied with several measures that ensured promotion of micro, small and medium enterprises.  Several welfare programmes aiming at the marginalized sections are also implemented so that they become part of the development process.  Myanmar’s economic transition process may benefit from India’s experience in this regard, he said.

Outlining the need for addressing bottlenecks, the President has declared the commitment of India in supporting Myanmar in improving infrastructure, connectivity, and people to people exchange. India is ready to commence discussions on issues like the motor vehicle agreement, which would transform the economies of the border regions and it can be mutually beneficial for the businesses.  India is also keen to find solutions and improve further the bilateral trade, in areas like pulses and keen to accommodate the interests of farmers of both India and Myanmar so that it can be a mutually beneficial.

Emerging fields such as digital economy, e-commerce, smart cities, and green solutions and technologies, renewables, health care, education, are some of the areas in which both India and Myanmar companies can forge partnerships and develop innovative solutions. 

Myanmar can take the advantage of the leap that India has taken in these aspects. “India’s growth story in these aspects has something to offer to Myanmar” the President remarked.  

Further to this, India’s liberalization process has also some lessons for Myanmar in terms of policy and regulatory reforms and it has resulted in improvement in India’s rank in ease of doing business.  There are lessons in this respect for Myanmar and adaptation of some of the institutional measures can go a long way in improving the eco system for business and manufacturing sectors and attracting collaborations. 

Speaking on the occasion the Vice President of the republic of the union of Myanmar Myint Swe pointed out that Myanmar government would take steps to promote more investments and B2B engagement so that trade, manufacturing sectors grow.  

Tracing out the bilateral and regional cooperation between India and Myanmar the vice president pointed out that both the countries has cultural, religious affinities and traditional friendship need to be further fostered through closer economic and business ties. Cooperation is sought in the areas of trade and investment, transport, communication, tourism, fisheries and so on. 

There is scope for expanding India’s investment in Myanmar as currently it stands in the 11th position among the 49 countries that are investing in Myanmar.  Welcoming the business delegation of over 70 members, that was participating in the Expo, the Vice President of Myanmar pointed out that both governments are keen to complete the connectivity projects.   Listing the measures taken to create a business friendly environment in Myanmar, he pointed out that the government is committed to the reform process and comprehensive development plan MSDP has been initiated which would provide framework for economic and social development.  Peace and national reconciliation, sound economic management, job creation, human capacity and social development, efficient use of natural resources and environmental protection are the goals of the sustainable development plan of Myanmar.  There are opportunities in all these aspects to have private sector participation and Indian companies can forge partnerships with the local companies in promoting sustainable and responsible businesses.

Welcoming the participants, Indian Ambassador Shri Vikram Misri pointed out the development cooperation between India and Myanmar is significant to boost the trade and economic relations and it would be further strengthened in the coming years with commitment from India to improve soft infrastructure like human resource development, IT cooperation and so forth.

Pointing out that 95 per cent of the companies of Myanmar come under the SME category and they contribute significantly to the GDP of the country, Mr. Misri highlighted the recent policy changes in Myanmar would help attract Indian businesses to explore joint ventures as well as direct investment.  Further improvements in trade logistics and the business eco system will boost the bilateral trade and investment. The launching of negotiations for a motor vehicle agreement is one such step, which would give significant boost to trade relations.