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Last Updated:[13-01-2010 06:37:36 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Myanmar Will Bring China and India Closer by Reopening Old Route

tradenews According to sources, Myanmar has agreed to honour a long standing need of the region by re-opening the Stilwell Road to facilitate trade among China, India and Myanmar. At the recently concluded 5th North East Business Summit at Kolkata, the Foreign Minister of Myanmar Nyan Win said that Myanmar was ready to open the old route as per the proposal by India.

The reopening of this route means the distance between India and China will considerably reduce from about 6000kms to less than 1750kms. China’s Yunnan province and India’s Assam state are likely to benefit through this decision though it opens up trade potential to Myanmar and Thailand.

The historic 1,726 km road, built by the Allied and Chinese forces under the supervision of the US Army General Joseph Stilwell, was used to transport the first supplies to the beleaguered Chinese Army during World War II in 1945 when Japanese troops invaded China. The Stilwell Road starts from Assam, in the heart of India's North-east, and cuts through the Pangsau pass in Myanmar to Kunming in South China.

Nyan informed that China had already constructed the road up to Tanai and there was a balance portion from Tanai to the Indian border which could now be completed with the support of India. The Stilwell Road on the Indian side is about 61kms and the major stretch of 1,033kms lies within the jungle-covered mountains and swampy valleys of northern Myanmar's Kachin State, while in China it is 632kms.

In the past three years, China has taken proactive measures to cash in on the trade opportunities in Myanmar and India by constructing several stretches of the Stilwell Road. Moreover, Myanmar and China have an MOU to supply gas from Myanmar to China, and with the new discoveries of gas fields in Myanmar, India too nurses similar ambitions.

The re-opening of the road is expected to make the North-east region of India to become a major hub for almost all its neighbours to obtain Indian automobile components, fruits, grains, vegetables, textiles and cotton yarn. On the other hand, the Indian traders will have easy access to electronic gadgets, synthetic blankets, teak, gold and semi-precious stones from its South-east Asian neighbours.

By Jose Roy

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