Both the leaders exchanged views on the issues of mutual interests. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi expressed keen interest in building linkages with the textiles sector of India. Stressing the preference of the people of Myanmar for natural fiber, Ms. Suu Kyi said that the handloom sector of India has immense potential for Myanmar. Pointing to the conducive ecology, Ms. Suu Kyi sought India’s help in developing a full value chain for silk production in Myanmar. Shri Sharma conveyed the greetings from Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Ms. Sonia Gandhi to the Myanmarese leader.
Later in the day, Shri Sharma met Mr. U Than Htay, Minister of Energy, Myanmar. In his meeting with the Myanmarese Minister, Shri Sharma conveyed the interest of Indian banks in setting up their branches in Myanmar. “India will also be happy to assist in strengthening the banking system in Myanmar as we inherit common banking laws,” said Shri Sharma. The two Ministers set a bilateral trade target of USD 3 billion by 2015.
Shri Sharma also conveyed India’s interest in deepening cooperation in procuring energy, oil and natural gas from Myanmar. “Our companies are interested in securing more exploratory oil and gas blocks both onshore and offshore,” said Shri Sharma to Mr. Htay. The issue of the revival of the discussions on the gas pipeline connection between India and Myanmar through Bangladesh was also discussed. Shri Sharma said that India stands ready to continue to assist Myanmar in the development of its infrastructural projects. “We are encouraged by the progress that has been made on implementation of several of the decisions taken during the State visit of President of Myanmar in October 2011 and that of our Prime Minister in May 2012,” said Shri Sharma. He also expressed happiness over the progress made in the Inland Waterway component of the Kaladan project.
The need to improve air, road and water connectivity between India and Myanmar also came up for discussion between the two Ministers. “A Joint Working Groups (JWG) to determine the technical and commercial feasibility of cross-border rail links and the commercial feasibility of direct shipping links between the two countries are working with the sole aim to boosting the trade ties between the two countries,” said Shri Sharma. While in 2011, the total trade between the two countries stood at USD 1.708 billion, it was USD 1.872 billion in 2012. India is the fourth largest trading partner of Myanmar after Thailand, Singapore and China.