India has pitched for a coastal shipping agreement with Myanmar on the lines of the agreement it signed with Bangladesh.
This will bring down trading and transport costs sharply and lead to a reduction of turnaround time which again impacts on costs.
India has already agreed a direct container shipping service between India and Myanmar from the Krishnapatnam port in Andhra Pradesh state in Oct 2014. This service is expected to change the way sea trade has been so far on the East Coast.
The new service, with the 1,200 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) vessel MV Kamal, will connect Chennai-Krishnapatnam-Yangon- Colombo. It is expected to facilitate faster trade at lower cost.
Captain S Narula, director, liner and passenger services, SCI, told reporters that the service will be turned into a weekly one if the cargo traffic goes up. He said they planned to increase the vessel to 2,500 TEUs in the second phase and eventually to 4,500 TEUs.
The bulk of the cargo which the vessel will carry to Myanmar will be cement and the SCI hopes to diversify the cargo.
Vinita Venkatesh, director, Krishnapatnam Port Container Terminal, said India has been importing pulses from Myanmar but was not exporting any goods. “Now the exports of cement will bring down the costs of imports,” she said.
The Observer Research Foundation is conducting a detailed study on the pros and cons of a possible India-Myanmar coastal shipping arrangement.
"So far our research seems to indicate bright prospects. Trade will sharply rise between the two countries if such an agreement happens and is backed by two way shipping traffic," Anasua Basu Raychaudhury , a senior ORF fellow with its Neighbourhood Regional Studies Initiative , told Mizzima.
She will soon visit Myanmar for the final leg of her research.