India promises developmental aid to Myanmar

New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles Anand Sharma Thursday told Aung San Suu Kyi that India was ready to extend “all necessary assistance” to the development of Myanmar.

Sharma made the pledge after meeting the chairperson of the National League for Democracy at Nay Pyi Taw, according to an Indian government statement.

“Myanmar is a vitally important neighbour for us. The relations between our two countries have broadened and deepened in the past two years,” the minister told Suu Kyi.

Sharma also met Energy Minister U Than Htay and said that Indian banks were interested in setting up branches in Myanmar.

“India will also be happy to assist in strengthening the banking system in Myanmar as we inherit common banking laws,” said Sharma. The two ministers set a bilateral trade target of $3 billion by 2015.

Sharma further said that India was interested in deepening cooperation in procuring energy, oil and natural gas from Myanmar.

“Our companies are interested in securing more exploratory oil and gas blocks both onshore and offshore,” he said.

They also spoke about reviving discussions on a gas pipeline between India and Myanmar through Bangladesh.

Sharma said India was ready to continue to assist Myanmar in developing its infrastructure projects.

Discussions also took place regarding the need to improve air, road and water connectivity between India and Myanmar.

“A joint working group (JWG) to determine the technical and commercial feasibility of cross-border rail links and the commercial feasibility of direct shipping links are working with the sole aim to boosting the trade ties between the two countries,” Sharma said.

Suu Kyi expressed keen interest in building linkages with the Indian textiles sector.

She said the Indian handloom sector held immense potential for Myanmar. She sought India’s help in developing a full value chain for silk production in Myanmar.

While trade between the two countries stood at $1.708 billion in 2011, it rose to $1.872 billion in 2012. India is the fourth largest trading partner of Myanmar after Thailand, Singapore and China.

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