- A deep water port built in Myanmar’s Sittwe on the Bay of Bengal by India is ready to be commissioned.
- The Indian achievement pips to the post a Chinese endeavour to create a deep-sea berthing infrastructure and an SEZ further down the Rakhine coast at Kyaukphyu. The two investments are inevitably being seen as the Asian competitors attempting to expand their spheres of naval influence in the Indian ocean region as in the case of Gwadar in Pakistan and Chabahar in Iran being built by China and India, respectively.
- Sittwe is the capital of Rakhine State (which has been in the news for the plight of Rohingya Muslims) in south-western Myanmar.
- It is located at the mouth of the Kaladan river, which flows into Mizoram in north-eastern India.
- India has for years sought transit access through Bangladesh to ship goods to the landlocked north-eastern States. At present, the only route to this region from the rest of India is a rather circuitous one through a narrow strip of Indian territory nicknamed the Chicken’s Neck in West Bengal, sandwiched between Bhutan and Bangladesh.
- “The strategic advantage would be that it would significantly lower the cost and distance of movement from Kolkata to Mizoram and beyond
- The two countries have exchanged drafts of proposed pacts to open several passport and customs control points on the India-Myanmar border to encourage vehicular traffic, with an aim of flagging them off within six months.