Myanmar reaffirms pledge to boost ASEAN-India ties

Yangon, Dec 24 (IANS) Myanmar has reaffirmed its pledge to boost ASEAN-India relations and close cooperation with other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

This was reiterated by Myanmar President U Thein Sein during the just-ended 20th ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi, reported Xinhua.

"Myanmar valued the friendly ties that have long been existed between ASEAN and India as Myanmar is a neighbour of India and a member of ASEAN," U Thein Sein told the summit.

Myanmar viewed that India is an important dialogue partner of ASEAN and it is still playing a crucial role in regional peace and stability.

Myanmar also expressed welcome of ASEAN-India Eminent Persons Group which it said will enhance cooperation and share peace, progress and prosperity.

India signed the ASEAN friendship and peace agreement in 2003 and actively participated in regional discussions led by ASEAN and supported the strategy of the grouping.

Being a neighbour of India, Myanmar attached importance to security cooperation between the ASEAN and India.

Both ASEAN and India are striving for boosting trade between them while they are closely cooperating in politics and security.

Efforts are being made to raise the trade volume between ASEAN and India up to $100 billion in 2015, while taking steps to foster relations of private sectors as well as small and medium enterprises.

U Thein Sein has asked for increasing Indian investment in Myanmar, saying that he also hoped for the increase of commerce and trade activities with the northwestern neighbour.

Meeting with President of Confederation of Indian Industry Adi Godrej during the visit to India for the summit, U Thein Sein said that Myanmar's recently enacted new Foreign Investment Law will provide various degrees of privileges to potential investors in respect of tax and duty and guarantee protection of property and profit and rights of the investors.

The country's foreign investment law allows 100-percent foreign ownership while it also allows joint ventures, selling, exchanging and transferring of shares with the approval of the Investment Commission.

U Thein Sein specially invited investment in the country's Dawei, Thilawa and Kyaukphyu deep seaport projects and other special economic zones, adding that there are still many untapped oil and gas deposits for Indian companies to invest.

Putting huge emphasis on infrastructural development projects to ensure connectivity in promoting regional trade, he cited the proposed extension to Laos and Cambodia of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Tripartite Highway project with the assistance of the Indian government.

According to Thein Sein, Myanmar-India bilateral trade is increasing steadily in recent years with India standing as Myanmar's fourth largest trading partner. In the fiscal year 2011-12, with a total trade volume of $1.37 billion, Myanmar's export to India was $1.04 billion, up 20 percent from the previous year, while its import from India took $324.5 million, a 66.5 percent increase correspondingly.

Myanmar imports from India metal ores and products, medicines, transport equipment, machines and its accessories and electric appliances.

There are six Indian companies having invested in Myanmar with a total of 262 million dollars, Myanmar statistics was quoted as saying.

Thein Sein also invited Indian entrepreneurs to do business in agriculture, which is Myanmar's mainstay in economy.

The two-day ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in the Indian capital marked the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN-India dialogue partnership and the 10th anniversary of ASEAN-India Summit-level partnership.