||Asean Affairs 11 June 2013
India boosts Myanmar investment post-WEF
Last week’s World Economic Forum was three days of ponderings on Myanmar’s economic future. Many reported that foreign investment in the poorest ASEAN nation was still more talk than walk—the complaints and hindrances that abounded included underdeveloped infrastructure and a shortage of a trained work force.
Aung San Suu Kyi herself proclaimed that foreign investment in Myanmar was still more of an exploratory “frenzy” than anything else.
However, Indian media has reported the inking and announcements of several bilateral deals on the sidelines of the Naypyitaw event—in keeping with the country’s increased “Look East Policy”.
Following a meeting between India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and President Thein Sein on Friday, Sharma announced that over the next few years, investment flow from India to Myanmar would increase to about US$2.6 billion.
The neighboring country, which is currently the 10th largest foreign investor in Myanmarat $273.5 million per year, also offered a $150 million package toward the establishment of a new Special Economic Zone in Sittwe, the capital of strife-torn Rakhine State.
It has yet to be decided exactly where the zone will be, but previous reports had told of India’s plans to link the Sittwe port with one in Kolkata 593km away.
Meanwhile, Sunil Bharti Mittal, CEO of BhartiAirtel—one of the 11 remaining contenders in the telecoms race—expressed confidence in his company’s tender bid at a communications debate on Friday. He said that he anticipated his company’s proposed investment of $9 billion would make the Indian telecoms company a main contender.
And further cementing the countries’ connections, it was agreed at the summit that Indian airlines could now fly to Myanmar.
"Yes, we [Indian airlines] got the fifth freedom rights which is a major concession," said Sharma, according to the Business Standard. Indian carrier Spice Jet has reportedly applied for a license to fly from Delhi to Yangon via Dhaka.