India to boost regional trade

Kathmandu, October 3:

In order to boost regional trade, India plans to spend about Rs 8,500 million Indian Currency (IC) to improve infrastructure along the border of four neighbouring countries, including Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Burma.

According to a news report, India will invest close to Rs 8,500 million IC over the next three years to fully develop 14 land customs stations — eight along the border with Bangladesh, four with Nepal, and one each along the border with Pakistan and Burma — in order to boost trade with the neighbouring countries.

India has already unveiled plans to upgrade four customs points along the Indo-Nepal border. The border check posts upgrading project worth over Rs 4,000 million IC is to modernise facilities of customs points at Raxaul-Birgunj, Jogbani-Biratnagar, Sunauli-Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj.

Out of the total 29 customs points, Nepal and India share 22 customs points for bilateral trade. Of these, third country trade is carried through 15 customs.

It may be mentioned that India is Nepal’s largest bilateral trading partner and trans-border customs points play a significant role in export-import business of the country.

Nepal’s bilateral trade with India stands about two third of its total foreign trade.

Jairam Ramesh, union minister of state for commerce said that the Moreh project, which has

border trade with Burma, specifically is part of the prime minister’s Look-East Policy, which envisages closer integration of the economies of the Northeast states with Southeast Asia.

Ramesh said that out of Rs 8,500 million IC that has been earmarked for development of infrastructure needed to boost trade, Rs 700 million IC will be spent at Moreh in Manipur, presently the only functional land customs station through which trade across the land route along 1,600 km Indo-Burma border takes place.

Preferring to travel the three-hour journey from Imphal to Moreh by road, instead of the usual helicopter, Ramesh visited Moreh along with senior officials of the ministries of home affairs, finance and external affairs.

The Moreh project is to be launched shortly and completed in the next year-and-a-half. It is being executed by the public sector company, RITES.