Yangon declaration on India-Myanmar cooperation

11 November 2017
Yangon declaration on India-Myanmar cooperation
Delegates at the conference.​ Photo: Thet Ko/Mizzima

A 19-point Yangon declaration was adopted by delegates from India and Myanmar to promote bilateral relations between the two neighbours, with the spotlight firmly focused on boosting cooperation between security forces.
Myanmar leaders like Yangon chief minister U Phyo Min Thein and experts like economist Aung Tun Thet called for more Indian investments and a greater Indian role in boosting Myanmar's infrastructure.
Indian officials promised all cooperation to Myanmar from development to peace-making to fighting terrorism.
Former Indian external intelligence chief Rajinder Khanna called for real time intelligence-sharing between agencies of the two countries to fight terrorism, specially the latest phase of fighting in Rakhine.  
Below is the full text of the declaration adopted at the end of the two-day conference on “India-Myanmar relations: The Way Forward" organised jointly by the Calcutta-based Institute of Social and Cultural Studies (ISCS) and the Yangon-based Myanmar Institute of Strategic & International Studies (MISIS): 
* As democracies, India and Myanmar should enhance bilateral cooperation in all areas. Frequent visits of top leaders of either country have created a positive atmosphere for greater cooperation. This conference calls for increasing exchanges at all levels and spheres activity including governments, parliaments, political parties, businesses, academics, civil society, non-governmental organization, women and grassroots organizations, etc, to bolster cooperation between these two historic neighbours.
 * Contribute to the peace process in Myanmar through sharing of India’s experience in resolving disputes with ethnic groups in the North East part of India.
* Globally, terrorism and flow of refugees are two of the biggest concerns of our times. Having a peaceful, prosperous and stable neighbourhood is in everybody’s interest.  Security and peace in Myanmar is not only important for security of India but also for the security of the region.
 *  Security forces of India and Myanmar work together to prevent extremist activities on either side of the border. More effort and cooperation is suggested to prevent cross border Non-Traditional security threats.
 * The Bay of Bengal is an important element in India-Myanmar security cooperation.  
* Trade between India and Myanmar doubled to over USD 2 billion in the last decade.  Both countries to intensify efforts to address obstacles to trade ranging from better connectivity, to improving soft infrastructure, freer movement, better logistics and financial connectivity, etc. In particular, Indian banks should be encouraged to take greater interest for facilitating trade investment in Myanmar. Currently transactions are majorly routed through Singapore. India should also encourage private banks to enter Myanmar.
* Myanmar should reform its banking sector especially in the core banking sector to make the financial system in sync with the other nations.
* Indian FDI in Myanmar is far from optimal. Indian companies should be aware of the future opportunities in Myanmar.
* Facilitate use of Myanmar-India currencies and exchange for trade.
* Leverage the strategic potential of Myanmar for trade and investment for the ASEAN, India, and ASEAN-FTA markets including benefiting from duty free trade preference provided by India to Least Developed countries.
 * North Eastern states of India especially States bordering Myanmar and vast parts of Myanmar’s hinterland in the West can gain from the Trilateral Highway, Rih-Tedim Road and Kaladan Projects.
* To further gains and ensure the move from informal to formal traffic; the two countries should ease VISA procedures. Currently, movement on business and E-VISA facilities are restricted through Moreh-Tamu border gates.
* Setting up Special Economic and Industrial zones in border areas of both India and Myanmar and along the connectivity corridors like the Trilateral Highway and Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Project and other potential routes with a focus on the agricultural sector. 
* Improve connectivity, both cargo and passenger by sea routes between Indian and Myanmar ports.
* Both countries should leverage their respective strengths including nature, culture, wildlife, river tours and medical facilities, to promote tourism. Travel and tour agencies may work with airlines to create tourist corridors from Myanmar to India and vice versa especially through the North East.
 * India should promote and improve facilities and infrastructure on the Buddhist pilgrimage circuit for pilgrims from South, South and South East Asia. Management and land ownership issues and bureaucratic restrictions limiting pilgrim travel should be looked into urgently.
*  India and Myanmar should jointly promote the message of peace, compassion and loving kindness (Metta) and the Middle Path of Lord Buddha to the world. Consider granting Bodhgaya the status of Holy City similar to the seats of other religions.
* Conduct Research on historic Buddhist ties between Myanmar and India, including Tagaung, the Pyu cities, Thaton, Bagan, Mrauk-U etc. Promote inter-faith dialogue based on highest principles of all religions. Develop an encyclopaedia of India-Myanmar Buddhist and cultural contacts.
*  Promote academic cooperation between India and Myanmar taking advantage of proximity, English language education, modern curricula and cultural comfort between the two countries.