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INDO-BURMA BORDER TRADE: PART 5 (LA
INDO-BURMA BORDER TRADE: FOUR-YEAR EXPERIENCE WITH DIFFICULTIES
BY: MIZZIMA NEWS GROUP
(The followings are news clippings of various newspapers in India on
Indo-Burma border trade during the past four years.)
Trade Vs. Human Rights
Is it a humanitarian response towards Burma's democratic movement to build
economic ties with the SLORC?
(Extracts from The Fist News Bulletin, published by India-based All Burma
Students League on April 30, 1995)
The much-awaited Indo-Burma border trade has already started. However, a
number of questions about the nature of border trade remain inside the
minds of people worldwide including democracy-loving Indian people. Their
protests against the trade will continue. Even more protests and anguish
are likely in the near future.
Does the implementation of this trade with an illegal and repressive
government insult the norms and standards of democratic values?
Who are going to benefit from this trade?
Why did the world's largest democratic country and a regional power like
India start trade with SLORC at a time when the international community
should impose economic sanctions against the Burmese military regime for
its deteriorating human rights abuses in the country?
Which advantages and disadvantages will affect the people of India?
The relationship between India and Burma has been sever and sold since the
Burmese military staged a brutal coup in September 1988, and its continuing
crack down on the democratic forces inside the country. From this state of
tense cold relationship between the two countries to the present state of
relationship (when the trade relationship was implemented), contributions
have been made since the present Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao came
to power. To be precise, former Indian Foreign Secretary Mr. J.N.Dixit and
SLORC's senior official in Foreign Ministry, U Aye, were the two pioneers
in regularizing the bilateral relationship between India and Burma. U Aye
came to New Delhi in August 1992 to meet with his counterpart and made
efforts to improve the deteriorated relations between the two countries.
His visit was the first official visit by a SLORC's senior officer since
1988. After his visit, J.N. Dixit paid an official visit to Burma in March
1993. He met with Burmese military leaders including Lt. General Khin
Nyunt, SLORC's Secretary No (1) and Chiefs of the notorious Military
Intelligence in Burma. On his way back to India, Mr Dixit asserted that
there will be normal relationship between the two countries and their
exchange of visits helped towards that. In the following year, January
1994, SLORC's Deputy Foreign Minister U Nyunt Swe arrived at New Delhi
amidst the protests of Burmese democratic forces in exile. During his
six-day long visit, he held a series of meetings with Indian ministerial
officials and discussed widely to improve the relationship between India
and Burma including implementing the border trade agreement. The Memorandum
of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the SLORC's Ambassador in New
Delhi and Mr. N.N Bohra, Secretary of Home Ministry from the Indian side.
The MOU, it was said, emphasized the need to crack down on illegal and
negative cross-border activities through regular meetings and intelligence
exchange. Most significant was that the two countries signed a bilateral
agreement to regularize and promote informal trade across the land border
into India's Northeastern States, using custom posts at the Moreh-Tamu road
on the border with Manipur State, and the Champhai-Hri crossing into
Later, the informal and formal visits of both countries officials were
exchanged under a low profile. With the aim to boost trade, an Indian Trade
Exhibition was held in Rangoon in February 1995 and was inaugurated by
Indian Commerce Minister. To implement the border trade treaty, a number of
meetings, at working level, were also held in border towns of each country
alternatively. Though the preparations took longer then expected, at last,
The Indo-Burma border trade was formally inaugurated on 12th April 1995 by
SLORC's Trade Minister Lt. Gen. Tun Kyi and India's Commerce Minister Shri
P. Chidambaram. According to Mr. Tejendra Khanna, Commerce Secretary,
Government of India, the new trading post will extend its operation within
a radius of 55 to 60 Km from the border on each side.
Trade between India and Burma
If one looks at the graph of Indo-Burma border trade, on will see that it
has steadily gone up since 1990. From about Rs. 90 Crores in 1989-90, the
bilateral trade between India and Burma reached Rs. 443 Crores in 1993-94.
India's exports which were only Rs. 1.3 Crores in 1989-90 stood at around
Rs. 60 Crores in 1993-94. Traditionally, the imports from Burma have been
pulses, beans and timber and timber products, and exports from India
included iron and steel products, cement, chemicals, paints/varnishes,
transport equipment and spare parts, pharmaceutical, jute products and
cotton yarn. According to Mr. G. Parthasarathy, Indian Ambassador in
Rangoon, Burma wants to import from India machinery and parts, jeeps, light
commercial vehicles, trucks, tractors and earthmover. A number of major
Indian automotive companies also have shown keen interest in exporting
their vehicles to Burma.
It is very apparent that the regularization of border trade with the
Burmese military government by the Indian Government does not help the
democratic movement in Burma at all. In fact, this action contributes
indirectly to human rights violations committed by the Burmese military
junta in Burma. For this, the Government of India will be criticized and
condemned by the democracy-loving people of India and the world.
In fact, appeals and protests were made by the India-based Burmese
democratic forces against the border trade even while attempts were being
made towards the implementation of the trade treaty. When Deputy foreign
Minister of SLORC came to New Delhi in August 1993 for this very issue, the
members of All Burma Students League organized a protest rally near the
place where the ministerial meeting between Uyunt Swe and his counter part
was being held. On the same day, the ABSL appealed to the Indian Prime
Minister Mr Narasimha Rao not to establish any relationship with Burma,
including border trade, till a democratic government is established in that
country. Any relationship with Burma at present will mean recognizing the
Burmese military junta, which took power through illegal ways including
suppressing the country's democratic movement brutally. Similarly, when the
third round of meetings between India and Burma for implementing the trade
treaty was being held on 22nd November 1994 in Aizawl, Mizoram State, the
Burmese democratic forces in Mizoram together with local Indian supporters
strongly protested against the trade meeting. A statement released by ABSL
(Mizoram-Regional Office) on 22nd November 1994, asserted "The most
important and the basic fact is that the present delegation from the
Burmese people. SLORC is not the elected government. The delegation from
SLORC is unauthorized and can never represent the Burmese people,"
In principal, the Burmese democratic forces do not oppose trading between
India and Burma, between the people of the two countries. But they believe
that the border trade with the military government in Burma will not
benefit the people of Burma, and instead will be fruitful for the Burmese
military elite who are in power. All the money will go into the pockets of
Burmese military generals, and more money for the Burmese military generals
means more power for this authoritarian regime.
(Extracts from The Fist Newsbulletin published by All Burma Students League
in April 1995)
Burmese traders sneak into India as gates remain closed
The Hindu Newspaper in India
6th November 1997
Moreh, Nov. 5: Tenthonoi has crossed the Indian border at gate 3 near the
Indo-Burma border town of Moren every day since the closure of border trade
between the two countries. Many other traders have sneaked into India to
sell smuggled goods at Moreh in connivance with law enforcing agencies of
the government of India.
With the help of an interpreter, Tenthonoi, a poor trader from Tamu, a
small town about 4km from Moreh, told The Asian Age that despite warnings
issued by Burmese officials, including the Army, the police and immigration
officers, not to cross the Indian border, over 100 Burmese businessmen from
Tamu and adjoining areas sell items at Moreh every day. They come early in
the morning andreturn late at night.
The Burmese cross the border near Magnag, Chanaipai, Gagangjai, Gogoyang at
gate three and four. At gate 3 and 4, they cross over despite the presence
of BSF personnel. Tenthonoi adds that some Kukis at the border had robbed
them of their belongings a few times. Since the closure of border trade,
hundreds of Burmese trader have been facing hardship, he said. Border
trade was closed from October 12 till 21 following a fire at the market
complex of the Namphalong Bazar in Burma. Trade resumed on October 22.
But it was closed again as the Burmese allowed only Meites and Meiti
Pangals to do business at the Namphalong Market. Other communities,
including Tamils and other Indians, were not allowed to enter to Namphalong
Market. Burmese traders had set up the trading centre at Namphalong.
Although the Burmese State Law and Order Restoration Council had closed the
gate and banned trade, Burmese traders continued their brisk business at
Mathoi, 34, a businesswoman, told the Asian Age that the Burmese military
law enforcing officials had arrested over 300 traders, including 160 women,
for crossing the border since trade was banned. The women were kept in the
Achuk jail near Primary School, Tamu, while the non-traders were served
deterrent punishment. They were also forced to clean the Tamu town, she
said, adding that they had been given a month-long jail term.
India offers $10m credit to Myanmar
The Hindu Newspapers in India
8th November 1997
India today offered a $10 million line of credit to the Union of Myanmar,
as a gesture of good-will and to promote bilateral trade and economic
Inaugurating the second Indian Trade Exhibition in Yangon, the Minister of
State for External Affairs, Mr. Saleem I. Shervani, said it would be a
Government-to-Government credit, reflection the commitment of the
Government of India for closer economic cooperation with Myanmar.
Mr. Shervani said ties with Myanmar were going well beyond the bilateral
level, with the eastern neighbour also joining the recently launched
Bangladesh-India-Sri Lanka-Thailand Economic Cooperation (BISTEC) forum.
He said Myanmar's entry into Asean could also make it India's gateway to
the markets in South-East Asia.
Speaking on the occasion, Myanmar's Minister for Commerce, Lt. Gen. Tun
Kyi, invited Indian investors to take advantage of the opportunities
offered by Myanmar, for investment and trade.
This India exhibition is being organised jointly by the India Trade
promotion organisation (ITPO) and the Embassy of India. It is being held
from November 7 to 13 at the famous Tatmadaw Hall in Yangon.
According to Mr. Shyam Saran, India's Ambassador to Myanmar, over 50 Indian
companies were participating in the exhibition with a wide range of
products and technology on show. It covered engineering items, transport
equipment, chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, handicrafts, household
goods and leather products. The presence of a retinue of Myanmar Ministers
and top military brass in the ruling State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC) at the opening ceremony today was a clear indication how
much the junta valued such Ministerial visits from India, which have been
rare. According to one source, the previous visit was by the then Commerce
Minister, Mr. P. Chidambaram, who came to inaugurate the first exhibition
in ferurary, 1995.
Among those present today were the Foreign Minister, Mr. Ohn Gyaw, the
Transport Minister, Lt. Gen Thein Win, the Mayor of Yangon, Mr. Ko Lay, the
Quarter Mister General of the Armed forces, Lt. Gen. Tin Hla and the
Minister in the office of the Chairman of SLORC, Lt. Gen. Min Thein.
The exhibition is being organised as part of the Embassy's celebations of
the 50th anniversary of India's Independence. The ITPO and the Myanmar
Investment Commission are holding a seminar on November 10 on 'India
Myanmar trade and Investment Cooperation in the context of Myanmar's entry
Mr. Shervani, who is on a two-day visit to Myanmar, also called on Lt. Gen
Khin Nyunt, Secretary-I, SLORC, this morning. The Myanmar foreign Minister,
Mr. Ohn Gyaw, and the Indian ambassador, Mr. Shyam Saran, were present on
Discussions centred on bilateral relations and the prospects for increasing
trade and economic relations. The two sides traced the historic relations
between the two countries and wanted the business community to take more
steps to make better use of the of the border-trade agreement signed two
years ago. The problem on the field, both in terms of infrastructure and
the bottlenecks for enhanced border trade figured in the deliberations.
Mr. Shervani left in the evening for New Delhi, obviously taking back some
very serious suggestions from the military rulers in Myanmar. His visit was
very well received by the generals, but also raised the basic and recurring
question in bilateral ties with this neighbour - Should India set aside its
inherent concerns about a military junta that wants to suppress a
democratically elected political party and continue to do business?
There are two sides to this coin. Myanmar is strategically too important
for New Delhi to ignore just because there is a junta in power. The
activities of some of the terrorist groups functioning in the North-Eastern
States, spilling over into the eastern neighbours like Bangladesh, Myanmar
and Thailand has to be borne in mind, as also the thrust that China is
making into Myanmar.
Traditionally, Indians have supported the prodemocracy groups and the
larger movement of have fled to India since the crackdown on prodemocracy
activists in 1988-1989 and have been campaigning for increased support from
Instead of putting Myanmar on the back burner till the third trade
exhibition perhaps in the year 2000, it may be worthwhile for India to
evolve a more effective policy for this neighbour.
The posting of Mr. Shyam Saran, who was earlier in Mauritius, was
considered the harbinger for such an approach to Myanmar and he has been
able to put up this fair within the first few months of his functioning in
Joint venture likely with Myanmar for nickel exploration
The Hindu Newspaper in India
6th November 1998
India and Myanmar are likely to enter into joint ventures for exploration
and exploitation of nickel and coal deposits in the northeastern border
areas. This is one of the proposals being examined as a result of the
recent visit of a high-level delegation to Myanmar led by the Commerce
Secretary, Mr. P.P. Prabhu.
Official sources say the proposal for nickel mining is significant since it
would help to reduce the large imports of this non-ferrous metal. The
coalmines venture is also expected to be useful in adding to the country's
energy requirements. Technical teams will be exchanged shortly to expedite
follow-up of these discussions. In the other important area of exploiting
natural gas reserves, the delegation did not hold any formal talks, but
indications are that India would be interested in any gas supplies made
available by a pipeline network from Myanmar. Currently, Myanmar has
entered into collaboration with Thailand for exploiting its offshore gas
reserves which will involve setting up a pipeline network in the Southeast
The need to step up bilateral trade was also raised during the visit of the
delegation and the importance of border trade was recognised in this
context. Currently, such trade is being carried on through Moreh in Manipur
on the Indian side and Tamu on the Myanmar side. It was also agreed that
traditional border trade for the benefit of the border area residents would
continue as in the past, without any restrictions. The border point could
also be used for normal trade transactions between the two countries,
subject to the normal export-import rules. For this purpose, both the sides
agreed to shortly conclude inter-bank arrangements to facilitate border trade.
Interestingly, India has now become Myanmar's largest export market
accounting for 23 per cent of its total export. Several steps were
discussed by the two sides to achieve a higher volume of trade with more
balance on both the sides. The possibility of entering into counter trade
was also examined.
The delegation's visit took place at the invitation of Myanmar's Deputy
Commerce Minister, Commodore Myo, and included representatives of the
Ministries of Commerce, External Affairs and Steel and Mines as well as
officials of the Reserve of Bank of India and United Bank of India. The
official team was accompanied by a ten-member business delegation
comprising representatives of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce
and Industry (FICCI) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). In
fact, the CII entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Myanmar
Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).
Efforts were also made to streamline banking ties between the two
countries. Talks were held by the RBI and UBI officials with the Myanmar
Finance Ministry, Central Bank and several public and private sector banks
in that country.
Centre allowed import of Onion from Myanmar
The Indian Express Newspaper in India
The centre allowed import of onion from Myanmar as a duty free vegetable
covered under open general license (OGL), official sources said. Although
onion figures in the list of 22 items meant for exchange between India and
Myanmar as agreed in a bilateral agreement between them on April four,
1995, customs authority posted at "free trade zone" Moreh on the
Indo-Myanmar border used to charge customs duty at par with other import
Following scarcity of vegetable in local market in view of discontinuance
of supply from domestic sources, traders in Manipur continued to feed the
market with onions through clandestine import of the vegetable. Onion is
still sold in Imphal market at around Rs 25 as against reported price of Rs
50 rpt 50 a kg in other parts of the country.
Market sources here claimed that the supply from Myanmar would suffice to
meet the market demand of around 500 quintals daily for the entire
north-east, including Assam, which is the highest consumer of the vegetable
in the region. Moreh Chamber of Commerce President Tarachand Jain told UNI
that the cumbersome procedure of clearance by customs and state government
authority as well as the harassment meted out to transporters on the so
called check gate should be done away with immediate effect to facilitate
smooth transportation of the scarce vegetable.
Meanwhile, the centre expressed confidence that the onion prices in the
coming weeks would come down to "reasonable levels. "Onion prices at level
of Rs 60 in Delhi," consumer affairs secretary MM Mukherjee told and union
territories here. Supplies in the Delhi market had improved significantly
from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana and Rajasthan and the declining trend
in prices is expected to continue, he said and added that the meeting had
taken several short-term decisions to augment supply of essential commodities.
The ban on export of onion has been extended till January 31. Cabinet
secretary Prabhat Kumar said despite the government talking steps like a
ban on onion export and asking the nafed to import onion, Importers were
not able to procure more than 500 tonnes from international markets. "We
have tried to import from Iran and Kazhakistan," he said and added that
enough stocks were not available in those markets. As the prices had to
come down to a reasonable level, the chief secretaries' meeting has decided
to extend the ban on export of onion for another two months, Kumar added.(UNI)
India, Myanmar to enhance inter-bank arrangements to boost border trade
The Indian Express Newspaper in India
2nd November 1998
India and Myanmar have agreed to make inter-bank arrangements between their
designated banks in a bid to promote border trade. The decision was taken
at bilateral trade talks, which concluded last week.
The talks, which were led by commerce secretary PP Prabhu and Myanmar
deputy minister of commerce Myo Tint, explored various mechanisms to
promote trade. The two parties discussed regional economic cooperation
within the framework of Indo-Asean partnership and issues relating to the
international economic and trading system. India is the largest export
market for Myanmar, accounting for 23 per cent of its total exports.
Both sides reconised the importance of border trade which currently takes
place through Moren in Manipur and Tamu in the Saggine division on the
Myanmar side. It was agreed that traditional border trade on a headload
basis for the benefit of residents on the border areas of both countries
would continue without restrictions. Both sides also agreed to promote
normal trade transactions, subject to their export-import rules. The
delegation consisted of senior officials of the ministries of commerce,
external affairs and steel and mines. From the banking sector the
delegation had officials of the Reserve Bank of India and United Bank of
India. The delegation also had a 10-member business team comprising
representatives of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CCI), Federation
of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and representatives from both
the public and private sector.
In the commerce secretary's talks with the Myanmar minister of mines it was
decided that the two sides will exchange technical level delegations to
identify areas for joint exploration. The delegation also had meetings with
the ministries of industry, agriculture, power and science and technology.
In all the meetings, the Myanmar side expressed keen interest in enhancing
bilateral cooperation in several areas.
Indo-Myanmar ties get a boost
The Hindustan Times Newspaper in India
28th February 1999
As part of New Delhi's Look East' policy, India and Myanmar have begun the
journey towards increasing co-operation in areas of economy, trade,
commerce, science, technology, investment and security.
The Indian initiative is evident from Foreign Secretary K. Raghunath's
on-going visit to Yangon.
This is the first foreign Secretary level visit since Mr. J. N. Dixit
visited India's eastern neighbor six year ago. Abroad based dialogue having
long-term impact in terms of better relations and understanding each other
security concerns has already commenced.
The two sides during Mr Raghunath's visit, are expected to discuss ways to
regularize their high-level contacts including increased exchange of
Future tie-ups in the field of hydrocarbon sector, mining, power, railways,
inland water transport, developmental assistance in infrastructure and
highway construction are on the priority list.
Another important aspect of this engagement is co-operation to check cross
The Myanmarese side is led by Deputy Foreign Minister U Khing Maung Win.
India is working overtime to build a key strategic highway in Myanmar with
about 35 per cent of the border road from Tamu across Moreh in Manipur to
Kalemyo in Myanmar already completec.
This highway, which is likely to be completed by the turn of century, will
link national highway 39 to the road network in Myanmar. A high-level
official delegation of Ministry of Mines is also slated to leave for Yangon
next month for exploring prospects of nickel mining in Myanmar.
The team was earlier scheduled to leave Delhi on Feb 22 but the date was
postponed in view of Mr Raghunath's visit.
During a top-level meeting with the visiting Myanmarese official delegation
in November, 1997 in New Delhi. India had offered to upgrade road
communication in the Kachin State, Chin State, upgrade railway facilities etc.
Indo-Myanmar border trade stopped
The Hindu Newspaper in India
23rd April 1997
For over a fortnight the bilateral legalized border trade between India and
Myanmar has come to halt since police and army in India stopped import of
foreign goods in protest against the shifting of the market from Prem Nagar
in India to Tamu in Myanmar.
Angry Indian traders had imposed an economic blockade in protest and now
police in Chandel district bordering Myanmar are not allowing foreign goods
into India. As a result prices of all items have goon beyond the reach of
Officials fear that the agreement on the legalization of border trade will
not be renewed after its expiry later this year.
Indications are that unless traders in Myanmar agree to once again shift
the business to Prem Nagar there will be no trade. For several decades,
Myanmarese nationals had been coming to Moreh, the smugglers' town in
Manipur bringing all sorts of foreign goods. A few thousands of south
Indians deported from Myanmar were staying at Moren to carry on the business.
In the morning these businessmen bought foreign goods wholesale, and sold
them to small time smugglers and traders from Imphal. They made huge
profits in the process. However, once the border trade was legalized
Myanmarese asked to be permitted to sell goods directly to Indian traders
and smugglers and not enough the South Indian middlemen.
These middlemen then launched some agitation making the Manipur Government
realize that shifting the market to Tamu about 10km inside Myanmarese
territory was not in India's interests. There is no policing of the 10km
long stretch of the jungle rout from Tamu to Moreh making it dangerous for
smugglers and traders traversing the path.
Besides shifting the market from Moreh where the under world business
flourished from the late 50's is not a part of bilateral agreement. Because
of the untenable condition imposed by the Myanmarese government it seems
India has also retaliated.
All these years the business had been in terms of millions of rupees daily
since heroin, arms and other contraband were clandestinely imported.
It is likely that Myanmar will agree to the restoration of business at
Moreh and Prem Nagar since the country is suffering having financial losses
daily. However, military officials in change of the border trade told
traders to bear with the "passing phase".
India to promote trade ties with Myanmar
6th November 1997
India expects to promote trade ties with and investment in Myanmar through
a trade exhibition due to open here tomorrow, Indian ambassador to Myanmar
Shyam Saram told a press conference here today.
The week-long Indian Trade Exhibition, sponsored by the Indian Trade
Promoting Organization, will be participated by two dozen prestigious
Indian companies, which will display a wide range of products and
technologies covering pharmacy, machinery, textiles, cosmetics and food, he
It will be the second trade exhibition India has held in Myanmar since the
first one in February 1995.
A seminar associated with the exhibition will also take place and panelists
will explore new opportunities for investment and trade after Myanmar's
entry into Association of Southeast Asian Nations earlier this year and its
proposed entry into BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and
Thailand-Economic Cooperation), he said.
India is one of Myanmar's five major trading partners, with trade volume
between them amounting to about 240 million U.S. dollars in the 1995-96
fiscal year. Of the total, India's exports to Myanmar were 35 million to 40
million dollars while its imports from the country were valued at 200
The balance of trade between the two countries has been traditionally in
favor of Myanmar, he pointed out.
India mainly sells to Myanmar iron and steel products, cement, chemicals,
rubber products, transport equipment, drugs, jute products and cotton yarn
while importing from it beans and pulses, timber and timber products.
India formally entered into a border trade agreement in April 1995 with
Myanmar, one of its immediate neighbors, and border trade activities are
carried out at points of Moreh (India) and Tamu (Myanmar).
According to the Indian ambassador, the border trade between the two
countries was recorded at 15 million to 20 million dollars since its
Ephedrine hydrochloride smuggled across Indo-Burma border
MIZZIMA News Group
12th February 1999
The Indo-Burma border, which was for some years used as a route of heroin
smuggling from Burma to outside world, is changed to a route of Ephedrine
hydrochloride smuggling. The Ephedrine is used in making Amphetamine
tablets, a drug being used as a substitute of heroin for many drug addicts.
According to some local sources, some merchants in Indo-Burma border trade
have turned into this tablet trade which profits more.
The Free Press, a local newspaper in Minipur State of India, reported on
10th February that Amphetamine tablets worth Rs. 23,40,000 (US $ 55,714)
were seized from a local merchant at Moreh which is a border township of
Burma. Customs officials in Manipur told that this is the first official
seizure of tablets even though the tablet trade has been going on for quite
some time. The newspaper quoted Mr C. Songate, Assistant Commissioner,
Customs in Imphal (Capital of Manipur State) saying that total 471,212 kg
of Ephedrine hydrochloride worth Rs. 60,45,996 (US $ 14,3952) were seized
from June 16 last year to January 8 this year.
The Ephedrine hydrochloride is smuggled out of India to Burma. In Manipur
State of India, many drug addicts have become tablet users due to cheaper,
easier and less risk availability of the tablets. In the first week of
January, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), an armed insurgent group in
North-East India issued a trade and practice. Over thirty thousands are
officially registered as drug users in Manipur State. The Ephedrine
hydrochloride is a licensed item in Mainland India but it is not allowed to
trade in North-East India.
Local merchants in Manipur State estimate that at least 200 kg of Ephedrine
is being smuggled from India into Burma everyday.
Indo-Burma border trade to be suspended
MIZZIMA News Group
14th November 1998
The never smooth Indo-Burma border trade is once again to be suspended.
This time, it is going to be unilaterally sealed by the India side. The All
Communities Welfare Association of Moreh, the apex welfare body of the
Indian traders, decided yesterday that it will indefinitely suspend "all
trade across the border with Burma" and seal the border gates from November
15 onwards in protest against "maltreatment of some Indian traders by the
Burmese authorities in Tamu (border township of Burma). The decision was
made in yesterday's daylong emergency meeting of the association after the
Burmese authorities abused some Indian traders the day before yesterday.
According to local traders, Captain Khin Maung Myint, the new Chairman of
Tamu Township peace and Development Council, abused four Indian traders
verbally when they went into Tamu on 12th November. The total 14 traders
were expelled from Tamu after they were badly abused by the Tamu Chairman
even though they were holding valid documents including entry passes with
due paid. Captain Khin Maung Myint was recently appointed by Rangoon
authorities as the border township chairman in the place of Captain Kaung
Zan Oo who was infamous with corruption. The Indian traders were angry that
Captain Khin Maung Myint not only maltreated their colleagues but also
placed several restrictions on the trade and not allowed any Burmese to
cross the border from Burma. They decided to suspend all trade with Tamu
side until the new restrictions were eased and the captain changed his
Ironically, the need to step up the borders trade was raised in recent
high-level meetings between Burma and India during a visit of India's
Commerce Secretary Mr. P.P. Prabhu to Rangoon in late October. Both
authorities reportedly agreed to continue the border trade without any
restrictions. The Indo-Burma trade, which started three years ago, is
currently mainly carried on through Moreh in Mainpur State of India and
Tamu on the Burmese side.
Legal border trade hits middlemen in Manipur
(From the Hindu newspaper, India on 14th May 1999)
Middlemen who used to make a killing from trade along the Indo-Myanmar
border have been left in the lurch after the legalization of border trade
and the Myanmarese Government decision to construct a marketing complex at
Namphalong just across the international border.
Earlier the Myanmarese traders were selling their goods at Tamu, about 5km
from Moreh, the last border town of Manipur. The Indian traders used to go
to Tamu daily to fetch the foreign items. Since everybody did not want to
trudge to Tamu for reasons including fear of looters, middlemen from Moreh
used to fetch the goods at cheap rates and sell them at huge profit.
Illegal exchange of the Indian rupee and Myanmarese Kyat was also a
thriving business and the ratio fluctuated from time to time depending on
the market scene.
The Myanmar Government, which felt that the middlemen had been exploiting
the traders, wanted trader to sell the items direct to the consumers. So it
constructed the marketing complex at Namphalong. Indian middlemen blocked
roads and set fire to the marketing complex twice. There had even been
sniper fire and one Indian had been shot dead in the return fire.
But the Myanmar Government beefed up security and then no fresh reports of
violence had been heard. Now the business has been shifted completely to
Namphalong. In sharp contrast the shops at Moreh are deserted and virtually
there is nothing for sale.
The trade agreement says that 22 consumer items are freely exchangeable
ones. But Imphal based correspondents who recently visited both Moreh and
Namphalong saw that the people from India are only after clothes and
Anybody can enter Namphalong after paying Rs. 5 as entry fee. One has to
pay Rs. 10 it the pass is meant from morning to evening. However the Indian
Government is not collecting such fees from the Myanmarese nationals since
they are of low-income group. The Myanmarese officials do not search the
bulky bags as long as the entry fee is paid. The Indian customs officials
just ignore the endless movement of traders and tourists. But then police
at Moreh and Tengnoupal make a detailed inventory of the items brought by
the traders. The traders say that there are fixed rates a trader or tourist
has to pay to the police personnel.
Official records show that India sold goods worth Rs. 56,78,88,009 to
Myanmar while purchasing goods worth Rs. 42,27,44,887 from April 12, 1995
to Sept. 15, 1997. But officials admit that the business is much more.
There is still an underworld business and most of the contraband goods are
illegally brought to Imphal.
Officials said that most of the goods imported and exported are not
reflected in the official records. It means that the State exchequer is not
getting much revenue while the corrupt system of bribing some officials is
Myanmarese students who live here say that in the past a limited quantity
of heroin was available at Tamu. But after the legalization of the border
trade the drugs are brought in jeeploads by some military personnel.
Now that thousands of middlemen have been affected there is a pressure on
the government not to renew the trade agreement.
(From the Hindu newspaper in May 1999)
BY: MIZZIMA NEWS GROUP
H-3/15, 1ST FLOOR,
VIKAS PURI, NEW DELHI- 110018