India, Myanmar target to double trade by 2015


New Delhi : India and Myanmar Tuesday agreed to double bilateral trade to $3 billion by 2015 by diversifying trade baskets and reducing barriers, especially tariffs.

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“I propose that we work towards doubling of bilateral trade by 2015. We also need to work towards broad-basing our trade basket,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said at the 4th meeting of India-Myanmar joint Trade Commission here.

“Businesses of both sides need to be encouraged to utilize Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme and India-ASEAN free trade agreement channels to diversify trade,” he said.

The minister said with diversification of trade basket, India can become the leading trading partner of Myanmar.

Currently, two items – pulses and wood products account for 97.5 percent of Myanmar’s total exports to India. Buffalo meat and pharmaceuticals account for 45 percent of India’s exports to Myanmar.

India-Myanmar bilateral trade was $1.5 billion last year.

One third of India’s import of pulses and one-fifth of timber come from Myanmar. With the implementation of India-ASEAN free trade agreement and duty free tariff preference scheme, bilateral trade is set to rise.

India and group of 10 countries Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed a free trade agreement in August 2009. The agreement came into effect from January 2010. Myanmar is a member of ASEAN.

The Indian minister also emphasised the need to boost the flow of investments between the two countries.

He said India was keen to take part in the gas sector of Myanmar. Indian companies have shown interest in setting up of gas based units and invest in Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) infrastructure in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s commerce minister U Win Myint, who co-chaired the joint trade meeting, showed strong support for the proposals of the Indian minister, according to an official statement issued after the meeting.