India-Myanmar border trade hit by Manipur blockade

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capture_596GUWAHATI: The crisis caused by the economic blockade in Manipur has affected the bilateral trade with the neighbouring Myanmar, and the concerns were echoed at a business meet here on Sunday.

“The bilateral trade between Myanmar and India through Manipur has significantly dropped due to the ongoing blockade. The prevailing situation has really affected the bilateral trade. Hardly 25% of the bilateral trade is being carried out at present,” said Myanmar’s Border Trade Chamber of Commerce president Hla Maung on the sidelines of the two-day India-Myanmar Reverse Buyer Seller Meet, organized by the Indian Chamber of Commerce here.

The conclave concluded on Sunday. Fifty-member delegation each from Myanmar and India had business-to-business interactions on prospect and opportunities for promoting bilateral trade with the neighboring country through Northeast.

“In fact frequent blockade in Manipur has already affected the bilateral trade. Situation has to improve for the sake of promotion of bilateral trade,” Maung said.

Manipur is hit by an indefinite blockade imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC) since November 1 against the government’s creation of new districts. The situation in the state is further aggravated by the counter blockade called by the Meitei groups.

The state shares 398 km international border with Myanmar, and state’s Moreh town is the hub of border trade with the neighbouring country. The volume of trade at the Moreh-Tamu border point is estimated to be around Rs 300 million, which is an increase from an estimated Rs 100 million about a decade back.

Officials however, said that the volume of illegal border trade is several times more than the legal one. Altogether 40 items are included for border trade between India and Myanmar. India’s export to Myanmar accounts about 38%.

With Northeast being put at the centre-stage of India’s Act East Policy for promoting trade link with South East Asian countries, Moreh along with other border points in the region has been identified as the strategic business location for cross-border business.

ICC said that the two-day meet is aimed at bringing together buyers and sellers from both sides of the border. North Eastern Council member C K Das said the historical ties, common cultural linkages and shared boundary between India and Myanmar are factors that should work in favour of improved trade between the two countries.

Source: Times of India

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