India proposes to extend its Southeast Asia waterway connectivity project to Thailand, aimed at linking regional waterways to boost trade
The planned network of international waterways, covering over 5,000 km and crossing eight countries, should benefit shippers, logistics players and shipowners.
The trade carried out through the network is estimated at more than 50 billion dollars.
According to officials from the Ministry of Ports, Navigation and Waterways, the Eastern Waterways Connectivity Transport Network, as the project is called, will be an extension of the India-Bangladesh protocol route, under which routes The land routes have already been opened to trade, and the waterways should be operational from January.
“India has already built Sittwe seaport in Myanmar. It has now become navigable. Sittwe is connected to Mizoram (by rivers).
This development will benefit both Mizoram and Tripura as it paves the way for global trade,” Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said in an interview.
Officials said the Sittwe River’s connection to the northeast could be extended deeper into Myanmar and Southeast Asian countries.
“Discussions have already been launched at the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) forum for a waterway system linking South Asian countries with Southeast countries.
Network development work will begin in phases after project due diligence,” the previously quoted officials said.
The plan on the South Asian side is to link economically weaker east and northeast India and Bangladesh with northern India, Nepal and Bhutan, benefiting around 600 million people.
Once these inland waterways are linked with coastal shipping, new commercial corridors with Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand will likely emerge, generating multiple impacts across the region.
Though the project’s cost is yet to be worked out, experts said that the advantages of this system would outscore any impediments as it uses inland waters for transportation costs just a fifth of road routes and is a lot lower than ocean shipping.
The transport grid using the waterways is part of India’s ‘Act East’ policy aimed at promoting economic cooperation, cultural ties and strategic relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
An earlier plan was to build a seamless road and railway network connecting India with Southeast Asian countries