Roadtrip! Singh sets 2016 deadline for Burma road to Thailand


Visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (L) shakes hands with Myanmar President Thein Sein during their meeting at the president's house in Naypyidaw on May 28, 2012. India's prime minister signed a raft of deals with Myanmar on May 28 in a historic visit aimed at boosting trade and energy links and contesting the influence of regional rival China.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh finally set a deadline for a trilateral highway that will make it possible to drive from India to Thailand on Monday, along with signing a slew of agreements that will give Indian companies access to Burmese market.

According to the Times of India, Singh "said India would undertake the repair of 71 bridges on the Tamu-Kalewa Friendship Road. India had earlier helped Myanmar build this road and the plan now is to link it with a place called Yargyi which will effectively link Moreh in India to Mae Sot in Thailand."

(My backseat remains unbooked, if you're interested and do not have any serious gastrointestinal issues).

Burma and India will form a joint working group to determine the technical and commercial feasibility of cross-border rail links and the commercial feasibility of direct shipping links between the two countries, as well, the paper said. 

Business deals formed during Singh's visit to Burma included a move to allow United Bank of India to open a branch in Yangon, an air service agreement for airlines and the announcement of a $500 million line of credit for Myanmar, the Hindustan Times said.

Jubilant Energy, which bid for an oil-gas exploration block last October, gained a second onshore block in the Irrawaddy river delta area, while India's JK Group signed an agreement with the Myanmar government to set up a paper mill, and Kirloskar was approved to build a pump factory.

There was also a nod to India's rupee woes, as the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of Myanmar have agreed to work out a “currency arrangement” to allow payments in local currencies, the paper said.

The air services agreement gives designated airlines from each country the right to operate between the countries as well as “fifth freedom rights” — which means that Indian airlines would be allowed to use Yangon as a stopover en route to other destinations.