Tue 26 Aug 2014
Filed under: Aid,Business / Trade,Regional
Even as countries such as China, Japan and Vietnam are investing heavily in Myanmar, capital inflows from India into that country lag. Now, the government of Myanmar has expressed displeasure at the lacklustre investment from India and delay in implementation of Indian projects there.
For its ‘Look East Policy’, India is banking heavily on Myanmar. Also, Indian industry is increasingly eyeing Myanmar as its next big destination, with companies such as OVL, GAIL, SpiceJet and Airtel making a beeline to enter the booming market in that country.
Authorities here, however, are unhappy with Indian companies; they say these companies come here for “window shopping” alone. “Many Indian companies are coming here, but not much investment is coming to our country from there, compared to that from Japan, South Korea, etc. If you are coming here with money, you have to take time to understand the situation here. Indian businessmen understand our culture, our sensitivities and our tradition. But they are not coming as much as we expected,” Ye Htut, Union minister of information, Myanmar, said.
Currently, Indian investments in Myanmar stand at about $273.5 million; it is expected this will soar to $2.6 billion in the next few years. By comparison, China has invested about $14 billion, Japan $3.5 billion and Vietnam $550 million.
Indian companies present in Myanmar include OVL, Jubilant Oil and Gas, Century Ply, Tata Motors, Essar Energy, RITES, Escorts, Sonalika Tractors, Zydus Pharmaceuticals, Sun Pharmaceuticals, Ranbaxy, Cadila Healthcare, Shree Balaji Enterprises, Shree Cements, Dr. Reddy’s Lab, Cipla, Gati Shipping, TCI Seaways, Apollo and AMRI.
In June 2013, India and Myanmar had set up a joint trade committee, co-chaired by Bharti Enterprises’ Sunil Bharti Mittal. However, nothing concrete has come out of this step yet.
Htut expressed displeasure at the slow implementation of projects committed by Indian authorities, especially the connectivity plans India had chalked out to connect the Southeast Asian and Chinese markets.
India had conceived an economic corridor project with Myanmar under the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity (MPAC), adopted at the 17th Asean summit in 2010 and part of the Centre’s larger plan to connect India’s Northeast with the Asean. The big-ticket items under this project are the Kaladan multimodal transit transport project and the trilateral highway connecting Thailand.
Though the Indian government says work on both the projects will be completed by 2016, adding some of it might be operational by 2017, the authorities here have denied this.
A senior Indian official said both projects were behind schedules due to slow implementation and procedural hurdles.
Under the Kaladan project, India is yet to work on the detailed project report on a road connecting Paletwa in western Myanmar with the Indian border in Mizoram. The trilateral highway, expected to be completed by 2016, is also facing delay. This is because Indian authorities haven’t yet built a long stretch of road between Imphal and Moreh in Manipur, a crucial part of the highway.