New Delhi, December 12: A senior government official on Tuesday confirmed that the government is in talks with ASEAN countries to extend the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) highway up to Vietnam.
The India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway is a highway under construction under India’s Look East Policy that will connect Moreh, a small town in Manipur near the international border of India with Mae Sot, Thailand via Myanmar.
Dakshita Das, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, who was speaking at the ASEAN-India Connectivity Summit, organised by the industry body CII, said that some level of discussions had started and have also announced a certain line of credit for the purpose on certain projects.
“Once we connect, we have a tremendous potential in terms of incremental GDP. Connectivity can generate annually, an estimated USD 70 billion in incremental GDP and 20 million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025,” Das said.
Das went on to add that another area on which the government is working to connect India with South East Asia is the IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA).
India, Myanmar and Thailand in 2014 commenced negotiations for finalising and implementing the IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA).
Framework MVAs need to be urgently concluded to utilise the physical road infrastructure on IMT Trilateral Highway and Asean that are central to completing the vision of India-Asean connectivity, Das said.
Yudhvir Singh Malik, Secretary at the ministry, said that the Northeast is the “door to building connectivities along with the Asean countries. I look forward to a day when I can drive my car to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok”.
Connecting India with the Southeastern countries through a network of roads will create jobs, a market for crops grown in hilly regions of the Northeast which will also help growers in getting a better price for their produce, he said.
Moreh is already a huge commercial hub and economists have suggested that it could become a bustling city in the next couple of decades. The town is already seen as the commercial capital of Manipur and India’s Gateway to South-East Asia.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has 10 member nations-Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia.
Edited by: Arnab Jyoti Das