Road of Growth: India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway

July 10, 2023 - By wom


A princely state of the times.

A land that celebrates Lord Krishna and his philosophy.
A community that gave management lessons to the world thousands of years back by introducing RasLeela; which is not merely a dance form but advocates an organised work structure at its core.
A state with the maximum number looms to its credit; that to handlooms.
A state that hosts the largest freshwater lake, Loktak Lake, famous in East India nay the entire South East Asian region. The only place in the world that houses a market run by all-women; called the Ima Market. It is the mountainous state of MANIPUR.
Manipur. A word that combines MANI (meaning jewels) and PUR (meaning place).
Tucked in the Eastern most corner of Northeast India, Manipur shares borders with Nagaland, Mizoram and Assam, as well as with the neighbouring country of Myanmar. It serves as the Gateway to the Eastern India through Moreh town; laying the path for trade between India and the Southeast Asian countries.
Manipur draws its strength from the bamboo trees and softness from its Mulberry Silk. Bamboo serves as a medium to weave beautiful cotton fabrics that are formed out of varied emotions. From the cotton that gets woven, the famous Manipuri shawl, the age-old Silk, embroidered fabrics, to fabulously painted and carved wooden artifacts; every creation has a historic flair, a story from the mythology to tell and an emotion to be experienced that’s simply romantic.
Manipur’s forest reserve not just entices tourism but provides for its socio-economic context. It is one of the oldest and largest bamboo producing state in India and retains its crown as the major contributor to the country’s bamboo exports.
True to its name, Manipur exports precious stones and a range of hand loomed fabric, handicrafts, medicinal and aromatic products. A major chunk of exports are made to Myanmar. Trade between India and Myanmar got affected due to blockade in the past few years.
In early 2000, a trilateral highway between India-Myanmar-Thailand was proposed and conceptualised. The highway connects Moreh in Manipur, India with Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar.
In 2014, Government of India’s Look East Policy translated into Act East Policy; focusing on nurturing economic relations between India and Southeast Asian countries. The underlying strategy was also to counterbalance the influence of Chinese goods in these markets.
An important part of this policy was the approval and construction of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway that originating from India and going up to Thailand via Myanmar. This is aimed at improving the trade and economic relations among ASEAN countries.
Recently, two-third completion of this highway was announced, signalling improved connectivity between Myanmar and Northeast India. The borders of these countries are mountainous and hence otherwise difficult to travel through.
Not just borders but the task of acquiring a market share in the ASEAN market seem to be an uphill task for India as well. China has been designing and supplying products for these countries for decades. They have been giving close competition to the Western brands and surviving quite good.
So, the completion of the trilateral highway is just the beginning. There starts the market acquisition that would involve acquiring business acumen to cater to the fragmented market of SEA. There is price-sensitivity involved that China seemed to have been addressing well and needs to be mapped equally well by India. India now need to map the road that’s less travelled in terms of trade with SEA countries. And why only trade? It can be B2B (Business-To-Business) engagement between India and ASEAN.

After all, Collaboration is the mantra to tap into new markets. Collaboration in terms of combining the resources requited to modernise the business and tap into the consumption trends in each other’s markets.

A relevant brand to watch for next few months would be; Fire Boltt – the smart watch brand from India that got launched in UAE and is planning to launch in SEA countries. Customising the product in relation to the audience’s need is the starting point to success.
And that’s where India has a stronger arm. India’s strength lies in catering to its diversity well. Brands have been custom-creating products for the Indian audience that changes every few hundred Kms. Digital transformation can lead India to make its mark felt in the SEA markets in the years to come.
So if done right, India can attain newer heights with the inauguration of the trilateral India-Myanmar-Thailand Highway. Not just this. It is also a fabulous opportunity for the jewelled state of India – Manipur to offer much more than a quick tropical holiday.
Note: – This article is written by our member Ruchi Adlakha, who is Marketing Lead at Kalpataru Limited, Pune.
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Graphics by WoM graphic designer Shubhanjali Kumari.