Myanmar is emerging as the next big investment destination for India Inc.

Top Indian companies are preparing to invest $2.6 billion in a host of industries, including telecommunications, energy and aviation.

Though somewhat late in entering a neighbouring country that is emerging from the shadows of decades-long military dictatorship, India seems to be determined now to make up for the time it lost there.

Countries like the US, Japan and China have all started making deep inroads there.

At present, Indian investments in Myanmar stand at around $273.50 million. This is expected to soar to $2.60 billion in the next few years. Some of companies that are already present there are the state-owned ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL), Jubilant Oil and Gas, and Century Ply among others.

Other Indian investors having operations in Myanmar are: Tata Motors, Essar Energy, RITES, Escorts, Sonalika Tractors, Zydus Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Sun Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Ranbaxy, Cadila Healthcare Ltd, Shree Balaji Enterprises, Shree Cements, Dr. Reddy’s Lab., CIPLA, Gati Shipping Ltd, TCI Seaways, Apollo and AMRI.

Recently, during the visit of Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma there, the government set up India-Myanmar Joint Trade Committee.

It will be co-chaired by Bharti Enterprises’ Sunil Bharti Mittal. The first meeting of the committee took place on June 7.

The Myanmar government awarded two telecom licenses under their new policy framework. Bharti Airtel has been shortlisted for submission of final bids.

“Out of Myanmar’s total trade volume of over $18 billion, India accounted for around 7.5 per cent (in 2011-12) and India is behind China, Singapore, Thailand and Japan in exports to Myanmar,” D.S. Rawat of Assocham told Business Standard newspaper in an interview.

India-Myanmar bilateral trade has expanded significantly from $12.4 million in 1980-81 to $1,070.88 million in 2010-11. With Myanmar exports to India at more than three times its import value, trade balance has been in favour of Myanmar in the last several years, Rawat said.

In the oil and gas sector, the Myanmar government has short-listed 59 companies for submission of final bids for 18 onshore gas blocks on offer. Seven Indian companies are part of those short-listed. OVL and GAIL have already announced $1.33 billion investment in China-Myanmar gas pipeline project.

The construction of two parallel pipelines for gas and oil has been awarded to India’s Punj Lloyd. It involves an investment of $475 million for building the 200km-long Kyaukphyu-Kunming Oil & Gas pipeline.

Jubilant Energy India has also won the government’s contract worth $73 million for exploring an onshore block in Central Myanmar.

India has urged the Myanmar government to revive discussions on the gas pipeline connection between India and Myanmar through Bangladesh.

For this, the Indian government has recommended Essar Ltd.

Recently, Myanmar government opened tendering for exploration and production of onshore and offshore oil blocks. For the 18 onshore blocks, Indian companies have been qualified for second round of bidding process. They include both public sector and private companies, such as OVL, Jubilant, and Cairn energy group.

In order to create a better connectivity, India’s SpiceJet has asked for operating rights for flying to Yangon from Delhi through Dhaka, Bangladesh.

India is also involved in Myanmar’s infrastructure development, like building inland waterways and the upgradation of the Sittwe Port.

Shipping Corporation of India Ltd. (SCI) has completed a feasibility study to start a liner service between India and Myanmar. —By arrangement with The Island/ANN

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