To revive the formal Indo-Myanmar Border Trade at Zokhawthar which is now completely at a standstill, the International Trade Initiative Forum (ITIF), Mizoram submitted a request through letter and memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, last month. In this connection, the ITIF representatives met Governor Hari Babu Kambhampati at the Raj Bhavan this afternoon. The ITIF team led by their President Pu P.C. Lawmkunga, IAS (retd) submitted their representation to the Governor with a request to take the matter to the central government.
At the instance of Governor Hari Babu, the representatives from ITIF Mizoram gave a briefing on how Indo-Myanmar Border trade at Zokhawthar was first started as traditional trade in 1995 until the Government of India formalized on December 2015 and sadly become as good as nonexistent today due to various reasons.
After the briefing, the Governor and ITIF members discuss and exchange their views on all the possible missing ingredients and conditions which might have rendered the discontinuation of the formal trade. Through the discussion, it is learnt that there is no adequate staff to man the LCS at Zokhawthar, the animal quarantine facilities, the food testing laboratory, the weighbridge and most of the primary requirements are not yet created. It is also reported that the erstwhile traders were having all sorts of problems in connection with the letter of credits needed for the exchange of goods, country of origin labelling (COOL) and other important requirements in the EXIM business at Zokhawthar. The ITIF Mizoram members also shared their opinion that the non-functioning of the formal Indo-Myanmar border trade could be one reason why the illegal smuggling activities started in this area.
Governor Hari Babu Kambhampati appreciated the ITIF Mizoram in their novel endeavours to prepare the youth and the business people in the state for the near future. Mizoram is expected to become a business hub and gateway as it is currently being prepared for it through national infrastructures like roads, railways, inland waterways, etc. He welcomed their effort in getting attention and informing the authorities on what could be the reason for the non-functioning and the need for fixing the trade at Zokhawthar. He assured ITIF Mizoram that the Government of India is very much committed to the promotion of trade with neighbouring countries and to facilitating the ease of doing business for its interested citizens. He suggested that ITIF Mizoram try to identify all the potential traders who might have been discouraged by this unfortunate situation and bring them to a table for discussion. He believed that the real reasons for the non-functioning of the formal Indo-Myanmar border trade can be better understood by the stakeholders. Governor Hari Babu also assured the representatives of the ITIF Mizoram that as soon as substantial information is provided to him, he would discuss the matter with concerned authorities in the central government and the state government. He further requested ITIF Mizoram to create more awareness campaigns on border trade to educate the people in the state.