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May 1999

Moreh Chamber of Commerce (MCC), an apex body made up of Indian businessmen
trading with Burma under Indo-Myanmar Border Trade Agreement, had recently
written a letter to the Government of India on the problems and
difficulties they are facing with. In the letter, the MCC pointed out some
of the factors which they think lead to the downfall of trade volume in
recent years. These include:

1)  unilateral ban imposed on some importable items such as Onions, Garlic,
Ground Nut, Chillies and Rice by Burmese authorities and temporary ban on
Export of Wheat Flour by Indian side;
2) Exorbitant rate of 45% import duty on Soyabean, Katha (Catechu), Resin,
3) Most of the goods importable from Burma are of agricultural nature and
forest produces. Out of 22 items Betel Nuts amounts approximately 80% of
the total import from Burma to India;
4) Non-ability of importable items in Burma coupled with high prices have
made import of some items non-profitable to the Indian traders, and thereby
affecting the import from Burma to India;
5) Ever since Burmese authorities imposed stiff restrictions upon Burmese
citizens from shopping in Moreh town, it has adversely affected the
business of Indian small-scale traders of Moreh;

Moreh Chambers of Commerce said that tele-communication system in Moreh is
a total failure and the better facility of telephone /fax service in Moreh
is vital for accelerating the border trade.

It suggested the Government of India to include some more goods items in
the trading list. List of proposed goods are: Paraffin Wax, Coconut oil,
Ground nut seed and oil, Cosmetics, Myanmar origin blanket and quilt, dress
materials, Raw cotton and mats, Handi crafts (made of wood and bamboo),
Cashew nuts, Cotton Yarn, Poppy seeds, Semi-precious stones, Cycle parts,
Auto parts and accessories, Milk powder and condensed milk, Cement,
Sanitary goods, crockery and toilet items, Wooden furniture, Hosiery goods,
Herbal roots, Cotton lungi, Agarbati, Pan Masala, Zarda, Stainless steel
utensils, Chemicals like Caustic Soda, Bleaching powder, borax and ammonium
chloride, Bamboo hats, Rock salt, Flavoring essence, Hand saw, Black cumin
seeds, Electric appliances and Specified third country goods. 

These items were proposed to add in the list of 22 items already identified
for exchange by residents living along the Indo-Burma border as per the

Border Trade Agreement signed in 1994. "When Burmese traders are not
allowed to come to India side, it is becoming difficult for the Indian
traders as they have to go to Burma side (Nampharlone market) for whatever
they do (for selling the things, to collect the money, etc.)", said Mr. N.
Kumar, president of Moreh Chambers of Commerce in an interview last month. 

The Government of India has agreed to equip better communication facilities
in Moreh and also to sanction necessary funds to Government of Manipur
State for organizing seminar-cum-awareness programmes/ workshops on border
trade to boost up the border trade. Moreover, the Central Government is
considering the request of 100-crores budget proposal of the Manipur
Government to set up a "Export Promotion Industrial Park" in Manipur State.
The industrial park, about 77-km, is to be constructed at KHUNUTA CHINGJIN,
a conjoining point of Kakching Sub-Division of Thoubal District and
Tengnoupal Sub-Division of Chandel District in Manipur. It is planned to be
a three-year project. 

Mumbai-based "Export-Import Bank of India", in its study, said that there
is a good opportunity for Indian traders and investors to do business in
Burma. It suggested that Burma offers opportunity for a wide range of
Indian products from iron and steel products to agro-chemicals and
machinery and spare parts especially for sugar and textile industry. The
study also suggested for software exports to Burma as Burma is initiating a
programme for computerisation and office automation in different sectors.
Moreover, it suggested establishing direct shipping links between the two
countries to enhance bilateral trade.

To Be Continued-

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