India and Myanmar are pushing ahead with plans to jointly develop the port of Sittwe. Sitting on the Bay of Bengal on the west coast of Myanmar, the port is part of the Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project, which will link the country to Mizoram state in northeastern India and provide some balance to the previous huge infrastructure developments coming from China.
The two countries will now seek bidders to lodge proposals to run the port as well as an inland port along a river to the north.
“This is a significant step in the implementation of India’s Act East Policy as its signing will enhance Myanmar’s connectivity including with India and add to the development of the whole region, particularly in the Rakhine and Chin States of Myanmar,” a statement from the Indian government said.
Commenting on the news, Splash columnist and Myanmar expert Andre Wheeler said: “It has more importance to India in that it will connect India’s landlocked northeast region to the Bay of Bengal through Mizoram – bypassing the need to ship through Bangladesh. From a Myanmar perspective it gives an alternative to the Chinese development in Kyauk Phyu. From a port operations perspective, Kyauk Phyu is a better site in terms of water depths and not prone to silt build up and dredging.”