Myanmar assures India fair bidding for telecom contracts

New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) India's Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, on a visit to Myanmar, Friday met the Southeast Asian nation's communications Minister U Myat Hein and enquired about the selection process for companies bidding for telecom contracts in the country.

During the meeting in capital Nay Pyi Taw, Sharma said the bids of shortlisted Indian companies may seriously be considered, keeping in mind the geographical contiguity and strategic interest of the two countries.

The Myanmarese minister conveyed to Sharma that he had full faith in the capacity of the Indian companies to compete in the process which, he assured, will be fully transparent and open, according to an Indian government statement.

Myanmar, one of the world's last major untapped mobile markets, has called bids for two mobile licences and short-listed 12 international consortia. Earlier this week, Bharti Airtel of India submitted a final bid for telecom licence in the country.

The two ministers also discussed investment-related issues. Sharma told Myat Hein that both countries have potential for future collaboration in oil and gas exploration, infrastructure, IT, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and education and skill development.

"We will see an investment of around $2.6 billion from India to Myanmar" over the next few years, said Sharma, who was attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia 2013 meeting.

India is the 10th largest investor in Myanmar with an investment estimated at $273.5 million.

Sharma also met Jon Fredrik Baksaas, president and chief executive officer of Telenor Group.

Baksaas said Telenor was committed to stay engaged in India and improve its presence. He also appreciated the government's intervention to work out a solution for the protection of the investment of telecom companies. "This has been reassuring for Telenor and other investors," Baksaas said.

Baksaas also raised the pending issue regarding their investment matters. Sharma, however, assured Telenor's president that the same would be expedited with the relevant authorities.

Sharma met U Than Htay, Myanmar's energy minister, Thursday and conveyed the interest of Indian banks to start operations there.

Speaking during a session entitled "The Long-Term View" at the World Economic Forum on East Asia 2013 in Nay Pyi Taw, Sharma highlighted that India's engagement with Myanmar is premised on a strong development partnership and that India would like to align its cooperation with the economic priorities of Myanmar.

With India concluding a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with ASEAN, Sharma stressed that this over-arching framework will act as a catalyst to boost trade and investment ties with countries of the region including Myanmar.

India and Myanmar set a bilateral trade target of $3 billion by 2015. In 2011, bilateral trade stood at $1.708 billion while it was $1.872 billion in 2012.

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