Will checkpost at India-Myanmar border boost organised trade?

Pratim Ranjan Bose Guwahati | Updated on September 12, 2019

Indian men carrying essential goods and crossing the Indo-Myanmar International border fencing at Moreh in Manipur (File photo)

After a five-year wait, the integrated check-post at the Moreh (Manipur) border with Myanmar is ready for operations. The construction of both the passenger and cargo terminals is over and the facility may be handed over to the Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) in the next couple of weeks.

However, formal trade may take some time to kick off, as the informal trade rules the roost due to vested interests on either side and the lack of allied infrastructure to ensure modern freight movement.

While India created infrastructure for trade, there is no such facility in Tamu on the other side of the border. The political will of Myanmar in promoting formal trade is questionable.

Second, India’s Ministry of External Affairs sponsored the construction of a bridge across river Menal, that divides the two nations here, to help cargo trucks from Myanmar enter directly into the ICP (and vice-versa) bypassing the narrow Friendship Bridge. The bridge was part of the 69 bridges that India will be constructing along the Trilateral Highway connecting India with Thailand via-Myanmar. The project is in limbo due to issues with the contractor — a JV of Manipur Tribal Development Corporation and the Mumbai-based Neeraj Cement Structurals.

The widening of the Imphal-Moreh highway and construction of the Moreh bypass is delayed due to land issues.

The Assam Rifles — which guards Indo-Myanmar border — has stepped up the heat on the informal trade. Moreh border recorded near-zero formal trade last fiscal as against an estimated ₹1,000-2,000 crore informal trade. Things are marginally better this fiscal as the ICP received 2-3 trucks of betelnut import consignment a month. There were no exports from India. The authorities are focusing on passenger movement. Synchronised bus services are planned to be launched soon to ensure smooth travel between Imphal (Manipur) and Mandalay (Myanmar).

Published on September 12, 2019

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