Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited Dawei in Myanmar on Thursday, reportedly to inspect the progress of the Dawei deep-sea port project.
The deep-sea port will be built on a 25-square kilometre site that includes the coastal area of Dawei beach, a forest and an old oil palm plantation.
A special purpose vehicle (SPV) in Thailand was set up earlier this month to handle all project management after Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD) struggled for two years to get the project off the ground. All investments in Dawei will be transferred to the SPV, in which the Thai and Myanmar government would hold equal shares, expected to be 30% each.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce has announced that plans are afoot to open a trading market in Pan Saung, a town in northern Sagaing Division that straddles the Indo-Myanmar border. “Adjoining Pan-Saung is an Indian village called Pann-Sharr,” said Director-General Tayza Aung Win of the Sub-department of Internal Trade under the Ministry of Commerce.
He said that Myanmar President Thein Sein and India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had already discussed and agreed on the project, and that the matter was now in the hands of local officials.
Pan Saung is situated in the mountainous and relatively poor Naga Autonomous Region. Tayza Aung Win said that the cross-border market would first and foremost be a means of increasing the locals’ livelihoods.
Although there has been no common marketplace until now, Indian and Myanmar traders have regularly used the Tamu border route as a trading point in recent years. In 2011-12 fiscal year, border trade between the two countries totaled US $15.409 million. In the 2012-13 by the end of January, bilateral trade stood at $32.137 million.
IT IS NOT OFTEN that a country of 60 million people opens its doors, arms outstretched, to the developed and developing world. It is indeed an opportune moment for a neighbouring country like India to build the deepest economic, political and cultural win-win relationships of great breadth and longevity. Myanmar, the land of Lord Buddha, has traditionally shared deep-rooted historical, ethnic and religious ties. This newsletter is a tribute to a glorious friendship, and an enabler to bilateral involvement leading to enlightened understanding and great commerce between two great nations. Myanmar indeed matters in today’s world. In context of a global economic slowdown that has gripped most of the West, the emergence and rise of a new economy within the relativity buoyant ASEAN region makes headline news. Every single facet of news and progress that Myanmar makes is a matter of great importance. Myanmar Matters will endeavour to report and showcase this in convenient capsules for those who may find such information to hold interest and value. Initially reflecting news as reported through a diversity of media, progressively this vehicle would broaden its relevance and contribution to the larger vision of bringing India and Myanmar closer together.
On a personal note, being from a North East Indian State that shared a 1500 kms border with Myanmar, which for several decades coexisted as a province under British Indian rule – one has grown up in an environment when trade and commerce between the Nort-Eastern States and Burma flourished, particularly in the oil sector. I have treasured Burmese people consistently in my immediate environment as friends and colleagues within the family. Fuelled by very happy memories from younger days, I have been travelling into Myanmar for over a decade now. Recently I visited Tamu (next to Moreh), and the warmth of the people there was so palpable, it re-enforced my belief that cultural tourism can truly thrive in this country.
India is Myanmar’s 4th largest trading partner, and the 7th most important source of Myanmar’s imports. It is my hope that our ranking increases further in the next two years, with more Indian projects in Myanmar, more Indo-Myanmar highways, air links and waterways, trade fairs and market promotions, commercial and political and cultural exchanges taking place. Amidst the global tussle of sustaining natural resources as we deal with development, Myanmar too needs to think about how it can secure its four natural key assets — food, water, energy and environment as it pushes for growth to support a growing populace. The principle of Naturenomics is worthy of serious consideration to balance out the potential stress on local eco systems in such an emerging economy.
It is benefiting that close on the heels of the Holi festival in India, Myanmar celebrates its Water Festival in April. Rather akin to the spirit with which Holi bids goodbye to winter and ushers in spring, the Water Festival embraces joie de vivre, spontaneity and harmony between all people. It is with that same spirit of bonding and expectation that in April, Globally Managed Services (GMS) launches its inaugural issue of Myanmar Matters. Your active participation will be all that matters.
As early as the time of King Ashoka of India, monks were sent to Thaton, a trading centre in Southern Myanmar, to spread Buddha’s teachings. From the first century C.E. onwards, trade, between India and Myanmar expanded and there was increased contact with Indian traders and their religious beliefs.
India has been particularly influential in Burmese culture which has been the cradle of Buddhism, and ancient Hindu traditions can still be seen in important ceremonies such as weddings and in the Burmese New Year festival Thingyan. While majority in Myanmar are Buddhists, they believe in astrology, which originated from Hindu Brahminism.
The Shwedagon Pagoda also know in English as Golden Pagoda, is a 99 metres gilded pagoda and stupa located in Yangon, Myanmar and is one of the most revered pilgrimage spots for Buddhism followers all over the world. Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day. This destination is of importance to Buddhism followers in India too.
The bond across the borders is also built by way of food, language, communication and commerce… the building blocks of social bridging.With such religious and cultural similarities between the two nations, the Indo-Myanmar alliance is bound to lead the way for bigger avenues of economic growth and development between these two countries.