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Border trade looks bright, says study

Imphal, May 4: Trade volume is increasing every year and India is reaping benefits from border trade with Myanmar by exporting more, a study carried out by Th. Bharat, reader, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy of Manipur University, has found.

The study also found that the volume of illegal import of commodities was huge.

“The value of export (to Myanmar) is estimated at about Rs 27 crore in 2012-13 while the value of import is estimated at Rs 20 crore,” the study carried out recently has found.

Bharat said the findings showed that India is doing well in border trade.

According to the study, the value of export in 2010-11 was Rs 26 lakh while that of import was Rs 3.8 crore.

Formal trade between the two countries was opened in 1995 through Manipur’s Moreh border town, 109km from Imphal and neighbouring Tamu town of Myanmar.

Initially there were only 22 items in the trade list. Now the number has increased to 62 items.

“At present, major trade items that are exported legally from India to Myanmar through land customs station at Moreh are edible buffalo offal, wheat flour, cumin seed (jeera), soyabari, and skimmed powder milk,” the study said.

Major trade items that are imported from Myanmar through the land customs station are betel nuts, dry gingers, serpentine roots, kuth roots, turmeric fingers, reed brooms and timber.

The study also found that the volume of exports through illegal trade was huge. The report said precious and semi-precious stones, blankets, cigarettes, beer cans , medicines, platinum ores, narcotic drugs, including heroin, opium and ganja, red sandalwoods, ketamine, shoes, spectacles are smuggled into India.

The study estimated illegal trade at Rs 3 crore per day.

“This shows that valuable items are found trading illegally through the porous border. The total value of illegal trade between India and Myanmar was estimated at Rs 8,365 crore in 2000-01,” the report said.

The study also found hardship faced by traders like harassment at check posts.

“Myanmar’s duty structure is not fixed and charges custom duty and imposes commercial tax on every Indian goods. Law and order problem is another hurdle. Location of trade licensing office in Guwahati is not making trade easier. Food testing takes much time to produce results,” the report said.

Bharat, who has been studying the border trade for the past 20 years, said official (legal) trade involves lots of paper works. There are also problems of inadequate parking space and lack of warehouses at Moreh.

Bharat said the Northeast could reap benefits of the Look East policy by increasing share of trade in the Southeast Asian market.

“This can be done only when border trade at Moreh is systematically developed along with the development of the border areas, including infrastructure,” he said.


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