India, Myanmar sign key deals, bus service from April

India and Myanmar have signed 10 agreements, ranging from infrastructure, energy, communication, and health, following delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President U Win Myint in New Delhi. President U. Win Myint and First Lady Daw Cho Cho arrived in India on February 26 on a four-day state visit.  During his talks with the Myanmar leader, PM Modi stressed on close cooperation between the two sides in various fields.

The two sides have decided to start a coordinated bus service between Imphal and Mandalay from April 7 to boost connectivity and people-to-people exchanges. The project was in the pipeline for six years. The bus operators on both sides have already signed an agreement in this regard, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement. India has also offered its assistance in the construction of an Integrated Check Point at Tamu in Myanmar, bordering Manipur. It is also aimed at easing people-to-people movement between Moreh and Tamu. An agreement was signed in this regard in 2018, which allowed travelers with valid document to cross the border at Moreh-Tamu and Zokhawathar-Rih, the statement said.

Assistance to Myanmar

India will also provide medical radiation equipment, Bhabhatron II, for cancer treatment as part of a broader collaboration in the health sector. Cooperation in refinery, stock piling, blending, and retail; the extension of the Quick Impact Project Scheme (QIPS) to Myanmar, E-ID card or Aadhaar model of assistance, mutual legal aid, and a National Knowledge Network to Myanmar have also been agreed.Under QIPS, India will undertake small projects for capacity development as well as for quick beneficial results for the local people.

Both sides have also agreed to continue negotiations on various pending treaties like extradition treaty and supporting establishment of Myanmar’s diplomatic academy. The two countries have also signed for more projects under the phase II Rakhine State Development Program. India had committed $25 million grant assistance to Myanmar over a period of five years.In phase I, 250 prefabricated houseswere built in Rakhine. Both sides also have agreed to jointly promote principles of openness, inclusiveness, transparency, respect for international law and ASEAN centrality in the Indo-pacific region, the statement added.

India-Myanmar Trade

Currently, trade between India and Myanmar is a paltry$1.7 billion, while India is Myanmar’s fifth-largest trading partner. The Union Cabinet has also recently approved three MoUs with Myanmar on combating timber trafficking, wildlife conservation, and petroleum products.The Myanmar leader’s trip comes as the bilateral relations are on an upswing,with the security forces of the two sides’ cooperating in unprecedented ways to fight the insurgent groups on the border. Myanmar is also willing to crackdown on Indian insurgent groups that use its territory as a safe haven, which has long been a security concern for India. In 2019, the Myanmar Army had evicted the Naga rebels from their main base at Taga in Sagaing Region in military action. The two countries also have close religious, linguistic and ethnic ties. Myanmar is the only ASEAN country bordering India that provides a gateway to South East Asia.

The First Couple will also visit Bodh Gaya and Agra during their stay in India. Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar had called on the visitors at their ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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