NAY PYI TAW (MYANMAR) (TIP): The proposed trilateral highway covering India, Myanmar and Thailand is expected to be operational by 2015- 16, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said on june 7. Leading a business delegation, Sharma is here to attend the World Economic Forum on East Asia 2013. “India is working closely with Myanmar and Thailand to develop the trilateral highway as we call it. We are half-way there, and this should be fully operational by 2015-16,” Sharma said during a session – The Long-Term View.

The idea of the highway – from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand, via Myanmar – was conceived at the trilateral ministerial meeting on transport linkages in Yangon in April 2002. The highway represents the most significant step in the establishment of connectivity between India and South East Asian countries. It was visualized as a highway of opportunity and friendship that would facilitate not just the movement of goods and services but also of people and ideas.

Sharma said the free trade agreement between India and ASEAN will act as a catalyst to boost trade and investment ties with countries in the region including Myanmar. He also said that India is looking to set up information technology institute and university in Mandalay. Besides, he added that New Delhi will share expertise with Myanmar in the enhancement of agricultural productivity, he added. “With this end in view, we are establishing an Advance Centre for Agricultural Research and Education at Yezin, and a Rice Bio Park is also being established in Myanmar through grant assistance by India,” Sharma said.

The minister also highlighted the importance of developing high-quality infrastructure. “India is developing Kaladan Multimodal Transit-Transport Project which will connect Mizoram to Sittwe port in Myanmar.” Further, he said that with democracy tightening its grip in Myanmar, which has provided a right enabling environment to inspire investor confidence, India remains committed “to be a steadfast partner of Myanmar as it charters its path to growth and progress”.

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