India and Myanmar need to work together on a road map to facilitate trade not just between the two but among other ASEAN nations with a view to boosting growth, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia today said.
She said the trade route between India and Myanmar has the potential to gain significantly from the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.
"Just sending goods to each other would not help, so we will need to work together on a road map on how to allow the goods of ASEAN region also... And provide them (traders) a secure environment, (modern) infrastructure and speed of movement," she said while launching a study on 'Enhancing India-Myanmar Border Trade: Policy and Implementation Measures'.
India has a free trade agreement with the 10-nation bloc ASEAN, whose members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam.
She referred to people talking about China's achievements and India's failure to replicate that.
"Let's get real about that. India is not China. We are a different country. We have a different policy. We engage for equal partneship... India does not gain at the cost of any other country and that is the difference. We need to recognise that," she said.
On security concerns related to the India-Myanmar border, the secretary underlined the need for both the governments to work on the issue as there is "a lot to do on this front".
She put primacy on economic growth and development as an important way to deal with security related matters.
"We need to create an environment, an economic space for growth, for development, for jobs and this will certainly be the only medicine for us to have an environment where traders feel comfortable," Teaotia said.
Further emphasising on the need to step up investments in border infrastructure, Teaotia suggested that the Inland Container Depot (ICD), which is under construction for long time, should be completed soon at both sides.
There is also a need to set up laboratory facility, including testing centres and systems for certificate of origin, she said, maintaining that India does not have any issue with Chinese or Thai goods flowing in, but rules of origin certificates and tariffs, if any, need to be applied for legitimate trade.
Asked about opening up of Myanmar's consulate at Moreh, she felt there is a need.
Speaking at the event, Joint Secretary of the Department of Commerce Ravi Capoor said there is a strong need to engage with neighbours like Myanmar as it would help boost growth of India's North-East.
The recommendations of the study include identification of focus areas, constitution of task force on border trade statistics, proper banking and currency exchange facilities and online Customs clearance to promote smooth flow of goods.