By Chingakham Dina, Arambam Karamjit, Khwairakpam Sunita
Manipur’s international business has been left without much progress in this global economy era. Things will change quickly when Manipur is connected to ASEAN nations but we will not get much if our government doesn’t take up proactive action plan. We have historical connection of border business with Myanmar. This border business of Manipur is minor thing when we compared with the border trades between the neighboring countries in ASEAN countries. But in the near future, business is going to move fast in Myanmar. Dawei Deep Sea Port and Special Economic Zone in Myanmar is under construction currently. This port is going to be the biggest in the whole Southeast Asia. Seeing the business opportunities, Thailand and Japan invest huge amount of money in Myanmar for the construction of Dawei Deep Sea Port.
Cross-border business in ASEAN countries
From Thailand, there is a road link through a Thai-Myanmar friendship bridge constructed in 1997 across Moei River in Mae Sot district of Tak province in Thailand and Myawadi in Burma side. This connecting bridge is on transnational Asian Highway AH1, which will link to Manipur. Seeing the potential benefits of business, Thailand invests huge amount of money in Dawei project and also a new second Thai-Myanmar friendship bridge has started construction work across the same river- Moei River, to be finished in 2017. The construction cost is taken care by Thai government for the bridge and road construction. There is large volume of business items carrying through cross border between Thailand-Burma, Thailand-Laos, Thailand-Cambodia, Thailand-Malaysia, Cambodia-Vietnam etc. Comparing the magnitude of business volume across borders of ASEAN countries, the business between Manipur-Myanmar at Moreh town is at tiny scale.
Opportunities for Manipur
Generally speaking Manipuri people are not good at business. Business is not our traditional profession like Marwari or Punjabi. However, modern younger generation who have learned about export-import business should take chances without missing this golden opportunities. Local business will benefit from opening eastern corridor. Without well prepared, we will not able to take the potential benefits. There are many outsiders waiting to take that opportunities. Other Asian nationalities are coming to our border for business. As our general people are not quite ready as well as not good at business area, we need awareness and preparation. We need to take opportunities in another area such as supplying human resource.
Myanmar is just at our front door. But we don’t know what is going on in the cities of Myanmar and what opportunities are in that country. Filipino teachers already reached there to teach with handsome salary of $3000 US per month in international schools. All the information and recruitment services are carried out and handled from Thailand with local people in collaboration with western educators. Thailand has signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) to allow their citizens to work on both sides. With common economic platform opens up among ASEAN nations, people from southeast Asian countries can access easily to Myanmar from Thailand by road and flight. We have educated youths, potential candidates to be employed and to run business there. Without signing memorandum of understanding, you cannot access the opportunity and and the potential candidates cannot be employed in spite of human resources are available and we cannot do any business. Without legal papers, you are going direct to prison, so our government needs to workout in this area. Otherwise the silver lining of look east policy will be nothing to Manipur.
People are waiting for the time that road link opens up. Only the the problem of road link is from Manipur to Myanmar. Once crossing Myanmar, almost all the ASEAN countries are connected by land. There are many foreign tourists expecting for road trip to India by car or bus once the road is opened up properly. (To be contd……)
Chingakham Dina- Working at Pathumwiali School, Pathumthani Thailand. Also taught in Cambodia / Can be reached at chingakham(at)yahoo(dot)com
Arambam Karamjit- Former Teacher SKN School, Nonthaburi, Thailand/Former Retail Outlet Manager, Hang Ten Co Ltd, Singapore / Can be reached at ronin9992008(at)gmail(dot)com
Khwairakpam Sunita- Former teacher at Pathumwilai School, Pathumthani Thailand / Can be reached at sunita.khwairakpam(at)yahoo(dot)com