India Awards Burma $500m Credit Deal

By Aung Ye Naing & Zarni Mann 28 May 2012

India signed 12 bilateral agreements with Burma on Monday including a US $500 million credit deal to boost economic ties and development in border areas between the two neighbors, according to reports from Naypyidaw.

The agreements come during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s three-day visit to Burma. Issues including border security, development, trade, investment and transportation links have been discussed. The $500m credit deal was reached between India’s Export-Import Bank and the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank, reports the BBC.

The two countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for joint development projects including the establishment of border trade complexes, schools and health centers along the 1,000-mile frontier dividing the two countries.

Singh will meet leaders of the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), including party chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi, in Rangoon on Tuesday to demonstrate New Delhi’s support for the military-dominated nation’s fledgling transition to democracy.

The business delegation accompanying the Indian prime minister also has plans to meet with officials from the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry during the trip.

“Since India has a strong tradition with Burma and might not want to make the government who they are interacting with lose face, they are not highlighting much about the meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi and the genuine changes of Burma,” said Tint Swe, who won a seat for the NLD at the overturned 1990 general elections.

“Due to their ‘Look-East’ policy, they have always kept silent on the democratic matters of Burma,” said Kyaw Than, the president of All Burma Student League.

“If [Singh] only welcomes and praises the so-called changes in the Burmese government and focuses on ensuring economic ties, then his visit will not significantly support the genuine changes in Burma.”
India is Burma’s fourth largest trading partner after China, Thailand and Singapore and its 13th biggest investor. There are an estimated 10,000 Burmese refugees currently living in India.

Since Western sanction on Burma, officially known as Myanmar, were recently eased, international businesses have renewed their interest in investing in the Southeast Asian nation. The International Monetary Fund has predicted that the Burmese economy will grow by 5.5 percent next year.