A $120 million port and multimodal transport project in Myanmar will open up international trade with India’s isolated North East provinces.

As part of a recent bilateral trade deal signed by Myanmar and India, the two countries pledged to complete the scheme linking the provinces to Sittwe port in Myanmar overland via India’s Mizoram by 2013.

The port requires extensive dredging and the construction of new terminals but once operational will offer direct sailings to enable shippers to pick up mainline services Kolkata. The two countries also pledged to double bilateral trade to $3 billion by 2015 by reducing trade tariffs.

The North Eastern states, commonly known as the Seven Sisters, have failed to benefit from India’s rapid economic growth, not least because they are only linked to the rest of the country and its ports via the Siliguri corridor, which skirts around northern Bangladesh through the Hamalaya mountains. The 932-mile journey to the nearest major Indian port – Kolkata – can take a week overland.

India has also been rebuilding its fractured relationship with Bangladesh, where the latter’s port of Chittagong also offers efficient access to the Seven Sisters.

– Contact Mike King at michael@borderline.eu.com