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29 May, 2012

India, Myanmar Agree To Upgrade Road Link With Thailand by 2016

India and Myanmar have pledged to complete the road link from Moreh in India to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar by 2016. The agreement was reached during the visit by Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Myanmar which ended on May 29. The road will complete one of the most important missing links in the entire Asian Highway network and give a significant boost to trade, tourism and transportation between Thailand and many landlocked parts of Asia, including the restive Northeast region of India.

Under the agreement, which also includes the extension of a US$500 million line of credit to Myanmar, India is to repair/upgrade 71 bridges on the Tamu-Kalewa friendship Road, and also upgrade the Kalewa-Yargyi road segment to highway standard while Myanmar will upgrade the Yargyi-Monywa stretch to highway standard by 2016. While it will enhance the economic and investment potential of Myanmar, as the two governments desire, the road will also accelerate the deforestation of Myanmar and worsen problems related to drug-running and organised crime syndicates.

The following is the full text of the joint statement issued by the leaders of Myanmar and India after the conclusion of the Indian PM’s visit. It highlights the huge leap forward to be made by the two countries in advancing their economic, social, cultural, educational ties, all of which will lead to a significant level of people to people movements.

Joint Statement on the occasion of the visit of Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh to Myanmar, Nay Pyi Taw, 28-May, 2012.

1. The Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, is paying a State visit to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar from May 27 to 29, 2012 at the invitation of the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, U Thein Sein. He is accompanied by his wife Shrimati Gursharan Kaur.

2. The Prime Minister was accorded a ceremonial welcome in Nay Pyi Taw and the President of Myanmar hosted a Banquet in his honour.

3. The visit of the Prime Minister the first after 25 years is a historic milestone in the relations between India and Myanmar.

4. The two leaders held a restricted meeting, followed by delegation level talks on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. The talks were held in a warm, cordial and constructive atmosphere reflecting the close and friendly relations between the two neighbouring countries and peoples.

5. During the official talks, the Prime Minister of India was assisted by the External Affairs Minister Shri S.M. Krishna, National Security Adviser Shri S Menon, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Shri Pulok Chatterji, Foreign Secretary Shri Ranjan Mathai, Ambassador of India to Myanmar Dr V.S. Seshadri and other senior officials.

6. The President of Myanmar was assisted by U Wunna Maung Lwin, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs and other Union Ministers and the Myanmar Ambassador to India U Zin Zaw and Senior Government Officials.

7. The Prime Minister of India and the President of Myanmar comprehensively reviewed the multifaceted bilateral relationship and took stock of developments since the very successful State visit of President U Thein Sein to India in October 2011. They expressed satisfaction at the ongoing official exchanges and the growing economic, trade and cultural ties, as well as people-to-people exchanges.

8. The two leaders agreed on a vision for the future in the pursuit of the common good – bilaterally, regionally and globally. They agreed to cooperate in the areas such as border area development, transportation, connectivity, agriculture, trade and investment, promotion of friendly exchanges and human resource development. They recognized that peace and stability in the region is necessary for development and well-being of the people of their respective countries. In this context, they emphasized the importance of close cooperation between India and Myanmar and the need to effectively harness their respective resources for the good of the peoples of the two countries.

9. The Prime Minister of India congratulated the President of Myanmar on the path breaking reform measures taken by the Government of Myanmar towards greater democratisation and national reconciliation. He commended the on-going efforts at political, economic and social reform, which included negotiation of preliminary peace agreements with several ethnic groups as well as dialogue with various democratic political parties including the National League for Democracy led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. He also expressed appreciation for the free, fair and peaceful conduct of the recent by-elections.

10. The Prime Minister of India reiterated India’s readiness to extend all necessary assistance in accelerating the country’s democratic transition and developing the capacity of democratic institutions such as the Parliament, National Human Rights Commission and the Media. Recalling the very successful visit of a Parliamentary delegation led by Thura U Shwe Mann, Speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw, to India in December 2011, the Prime Minister conveyed India’s readiness to undertake training programmes for Myanmar Parliamentarians and staff.

11. The following instruments for enhancing bilateral cooperation were signed during the visit:

(i) Memorandum of Understanding regarding US$ 500 million Line of Credit

(ii) Air Services Agreement between India and Myanmar

(iii) Memorandum of Understanding on the India-Myanmar Border Area Development

(iv) Memorandum of Understanding on Establishment of Joint Trade and Investment Forum

(v) Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the Advance Centre for Agriculture Research and Education (ACARE)

(vi) Memorandum of Understanding on Establishment of Rice Bio Park at the Department of Agricultural Research in Nay Pyi Taw

(vii) Memorandum of Understanding towards setting up of Myanmar Institute of Information Technology

(viii) Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between Dagon University and Calcutta University

(ix) Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies and Indian Council of World Affairs.

(x) Agreement on Cooperation between Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies and Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis.

(xi) Cultural Exchange Programme (2012-2015)

(xii) Memorandum of Understanding on establishing of Border Haats across the border between Myanmar and India.

12. The two leaders underscored that bilateral relations between India and Myanmar are rooted in shared history and geography, culture and civilization. Welcoming that the range and frequency of engagement between the two countries had intensified significantly since Myanmar’s transition towards a more democratic form of Government in March 2011, they committed to further enhancing these exchanges so as to take bilateral cooperation to a higher level. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the recent successful visits from Myanmar including that of the Foreign Minister of Myanmar U Wunna Maung Lwin in January 2012; the Minister of Construction of Myanmar U Khin Maung Myint in February 2012; and from India including the visit of the Minister for Water Resources and Parliamentary Affairs of India Mr. P.K. Bansal to Myanmar in February 2012. The two sides agreed to continue with the frequent exchanges of visits at the leadership level.

13. Both leaders reaffirmed their shared commitment to fight the scourge of terrorism and insurgent activity in all its forms and manifestations. Both of them emphasized the need for enhanced cooperation between security forces and border guarding agencies for securing peace, security and stability in the border areas, which was crucial for overall development. In this context, the two leaders welcomed the holding of the first meeting of the bilateral Regional Border Committee whose deliberations were useful in promoting such cooperation and understanding for better border management. Both leaders reiterated the assurance that territories of either country would not be allowed to be used for activities inimical to the other, including for training, sanctuary and other operations by terrorist and insurgent organisations and their operatives.

14. Both leaders also alluded to the importance of sound border management as an intrinsic part of maintaining border security. In this context, they directed that the respective Survey Departments should inspect and maintain boundary pillars in a systematic manner. They also directed the respective Heads of Survey Department to finalise dates for an early joint inspection of the sectors jointly identified at the 17th National Level Meeting.


15. The two leaders emphasised the importance of enhancing connectivity between the two countries as a means of promoting commercial, cultural, touristic and other exchanges between the peoples of the two countries. They expressed satisfaction at the steady progress being made on the Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project. They welcomed the finalisation of the site of the Land Customs Station at Zorinpui (Mizoram) following joint inspection by Indian and Myanmar delegations in April 2012. It was noted that the project would enhance bilateral trade, people to people contact and contribute to the development and prosperity of the people living in the ‘land locked’ North Eastern region of India.

16. The Prime Minister of India announced that India would undertake the task of repair/upgradation of 71 bridges on the Tamu-Kalewa friendship Road. The two leaders decided that India would undertake the upgradation of the Kalewa-Yargyi road segment to highway standard while Myanmar would undertake that of upgradation of the Yargyi-Monywa stretch to highway standard by 2016. This project would help in establishing trilateral connectivity from Moreh in India to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar. The two leaders welcomed the revival of the Joint Task Force on the Trilateral Highway between India-Myanmar–Thailand. It was agreed that efforts would be made to establish seamless trilateral connectivity by 2016.

17. Taking into account the importance of enabling people-to-people contacts, the two sides agreed to launch a trans-border bus service from Imphal, India to Mandalay. The two leaders directed the concerned officials from both sides to finalise all modalities to enable its early operationalisation.

18. They also welcomed the signing of the new Air Service agreement which would enhance direct air connectivity and facilitate easy business interaction, tourism and people-to people exchanges.

19. The two leaders decided to constitute a Joint Working Group to determine the technical and commercial feasibility of cross-border rail links and the commercial feasibility of direct shipping links between the two countries.

20. The two sides also discussed the possibility of Indian participation in development of key infrastructure projects, like Dawei port in Myanmar.

Development Cooperation

21. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the growing dimension of development cooperation between the two countries which is being financed under grants and concessional loans amounting to US$ 1.2 billion till date. Taking stock of ongoing projects in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, human resource development, industrial development, power, health etc., the two leaders agreed to identify more projects of benefit to the people of Myanmar in future.

22. Both leaders welcomed the signing of the MoU on the US$ 500 million Line of Credit extended by India to the Government of Myanmar which would pave the way for its early operationalisation. The Line of Credit will be utilised in the infrastructure development projects, including in the fields of Agriculture and Irrigation, Rail Transportation, and Electric Power in Myanmar.

23. Identifying the need for special focus on the development and prosperity of the people in bordering areas, the two leaders agreed to cooperate to bring about overall socio-economic development in the border areas by undertaking both infrastructure development and micro-economic projects, including upgradation of roads and construction of schools, health centres, bridges, agriculture and related training activities in the area in accordance with the MoU on India-Myanmar Border Area Development that was signed during the visit. The President of Myanmar also welcomed India’s offer of assistance in production of large Cardamom in the Naga Self Administered zone.

24. Expressing their commitment to enhance cooperation in Science & Technology, the two leaders noted with satisfaction that the first meeting of the India-Myanmar Joint Working Group on Science and Technology was held on April 3, 2012. The Joint Working Group has identified some priority areas for future cooperation in the fields of agricultural biotechnology, post harvest technology, medical biotechnology, medical research and renewable energy. The two leaders welcomed these decisions and agreed that Myanmar would prepare specific proposals on some of its priority projects so that they can be taken forward for implementation.

25. Under a MoU signed during the visit, the two leaders decided to set up the Myanmar Institute of Information Technology with financial and technical assistance from India. The Indian Prime Minister announced continued technical and financial support for the India-Myanmar Centre for Enhancement of IT Skills in Yangon for a further 5 year period when it will also undergo a technology upgrade. The Indian Prime Minister announced a Fellowship for Myanmar Researchers to work in Indian Universities and Research Institutions, under which 10 slots would be allocated every year. Each Fellowship would be for 4-6 months duration in the areas of Atmospheric and Earth Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Engineering Sciences, Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, Mathematical and Computational Sciences and Physical Sciences.

26. The Prime Minister of India announced that in keeping with India’s commitment to developing human resource capacity in Myanmar, the existing number of training slots for Myanmar, including under the Indian Economic and Technical Cooperation (ITEC) Programme, would be doubled from the current 250 to 500. The President of Myanmar welcomed this significant gesture.

27. The Myanmar President thanked the Indian side for its offer to train Myanmar diplomats in conference management and for the assistance in setting up language laboratories and conference rooms in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon and e-research centre in Nay Pyi Taw for the Ministry of Foreign affairs.

28. The two sides also expressed their commitment to enhance cooperation in the area of Agriculture. The President of Myanmar thanked India for the agricultural machinery that had been gifted to Myanmar under a grant of US$ 10 million and conveyed that the machinery had been distributed to various locations of Myanmar and is being used for the benefit of Myanmar’s farming community. Under the MoU signed during the visit, the two leaders decided to establish the Advanced Centre for Agricultural Research and Education as a Centre for Excellence using cutting edge technology along with traditional knowledge and ecological conservation with financial and technical assistance from India. They also agreed to set up a Rice Bio Park within the Department of Agricultural Research, Yezin in Nay Pyi Taw in order to demonstrate available techniques of sustainable rice biomass utilisation. These two institutions together will provide technological and research inputs to the Myanmar farming, academic and business communities. The President of Myanmar also thanked the Prime Minister for India’s support to the construction of a modern cyclone-proof rice silo within the Model Integrated Farm at Nay Pyi Taw.

29. The Myanmar side requested for India’s assistance in arranging training programmes/fellowships in the areas of dairy development, cattle breeding, vaccine technology and assistance in setting up a milk and milk product factory in Shan State. The Indian side agreed to consider the proposal favourably.

Trade and Investment

30. Alluding to the mutually agreed target of doubling the bilateral trade by 2015, both leaders emphasized that there is considerable untapped potential for greater trade and urged the business community to capitalize on this potential. Investments by Indian companies in areas like ports, highways, oil & gas, plantation, manufacturing, hospitality and ICT would be specifically encouraged. In this context, the two leaders underscored the importance of the newly created Trade and Investment Forum in enabling timely and accurate exchange of information and ideas.

31. They assured that both Governments would work to identify and remove various impediments to bilateral trade. In this context, they welcomed the establishment of a representative office of the United Bank of India in Yangon as a first step in facilitating business-friendly banking transactions between the two countries. The Myanmar side welcomed the proposals for the training of Myanmar officials in the Banking sector by Indian banks and for cooperation in the Agriculture Banking sector. Considering the vast potential for promoting trade between the two countries, both sides agreed that the Reserve Bank of India would sign an MoU with the Central Bank of Myanmar on currency arrangements between India and Myanmar in the near future. Further, the Reserve Bank of India would also conclude an MoU with the Central Bank of Myanmar to serve as a platform for an exchange of views on issues of mutual interest. The two sides agreed upon sharing of banking experiences and technical know-how from State Bank of India or any other bank as mutually agreed.

32. Both leaders urged the business community to enthusiastically participate in each other’s trade fairs and also to share information on the prevailing trade and investment policies through organization of seminars and business related events in specific sectors of mutual interest. In this context, they welcomed the organization of the first Enterprise India Show in Yangon in November 2011 by CII and UMFCCI and the decision taken to make it an annual event.

33. Taking into account the needs of communities residing near the border, the two leaders welcomed the decision to set up border haats along the border and the MOU agreed for this purpose. They also noted that the decision to upgrade banking infrastructure at border trade points would also facilitate greater trade between people living in these areas.

34. The two leaders directed that a bilateral Border Trade Committee should be set up to implement the earlier decision that meetings would be held regularly between the border trade officials and businesspersons in Tamu-Moreh and Rhi-Zowkhathar.

Power and Energy

35. The two leaders emphasised the need for closer cooperation to further energy security. In this context, they welcomed the signing of the Production Sharing Contract between the Government of Myanmar and the Jubilant Energy of India. They encouraged investment by Indian companies in Myanmar oil and gas sector, including in available blocks that are being offered for investment which have good prospects. They also agreed to encourage investment by Indian companies in downstream projects in the petroleum industry.

36. The Myanmar President expressed his appreciation to India for undertaking the preparation of Detailed Project Reports of the Tamanthi and Shwezaye hydropower projects. Both leaders directed their respective officials to study the contents of the DPRs and finalise the future course of action, taking into account technical, commercial and socio-environmental considerations.

Culture and People to People Exchanges

37. The two leaders emphasized the centrality of culture in further deepening the close bonds between the peoples of India and Myanmar and expressed satisfaction with the signature of the Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) for the period 2012-2015. It was noted that the CEP would also promote cultural exchanges between the North Eastern States of India and the bordering areas of Myanmar.

38. They also welcomed the preparations that have been made towards organizing the International Conference on Buddhist Heritage in Myanmar in December 2012 with the cooperation of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Ministry of Religious Affairs of Myanmar and the Sitagu World Buddhist Association.

39. The Myanmar side thanked India for its decision to gift a 16 feet sand stone replica of the Sarnath Buddha later in the year that will be installed in the precincts of the Shwedagon Pagoda. A smaller replica will be unveiled by the Prime Minister during his visit. The Myanmar side also conveyed its appreciation to India for the facilities and courtesies being extended to Myanmar pilgrims visiting India.

40. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the ongoing pace of work on the project for conservation and restoration of the Ananda Temple in Bagan, Myanmar by the Archaeological Survey of India which is expected to be completed over the next 2 years.

41. The two leaders also welcomed the formalization of contacts between Indian and Myanmar think tanks and academic institutions and urged scholars to participate actively and exchange views in academic events being held in either country.

42. The President of Myanmar welcomed the announcement made by the Prime Minister regarding the Government of India’s support for setting up a school with technical assistance from India.

Regional and Multilateral

43. The two leaders discussed a broad range of regional and international issues of mutual interest. They agreed to continue their coordination on issues of common interest on the international agenda.

44. The two leaders emphasized the importance of close coordination towards the cause of regional cooperation. The Prime Minister of India extended his good wishes to Myanmar for a successful term as BIMSTEC Chair, including its proposal to host the next BIMSTEC Summit meeting. The two leaders looked forward to further intensification of ASEAN-India co-operation under Myanmar’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014. The Prime Minister of India emphasised that Myanmar holds a significant place both in India’s Look East Policy and in its collaboration with ASEAN countries under the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI). The two leaders agreed to cooperate closely on activities related to the forthcoming ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit.

45. The Prime Minister of India thanked the President of Myanmar for the warm and gracious hospitality extended to him and the members of his delegation during their stay in Myanmar.

46. The Prime Minister invited the President of Myanmar to visit India on mutually convenient dates which will be decided through diplomatic channels. The President of Myanmar accepted the invitation.