Trotting to market

News today that trade between Myanmar and northeast India’s Mizoram State is expected to “take-off” with the completion of new customs buildings. This follows an earlier report from The Times of India that the Indian “commerce ministry…said it would extend all possible assistance to boost exports from Mizoram”.

Broader context on the opening of this trade route is provided by the somewhat surprising source of the Islamic Republic News Agency‘s english language edition.

Trade between Mizoram and Myanmar has, of course, been a dream for businesspeople and bureaucrats for decades. Secure and efficient transport links between northeast India and Southeast Asia have the potential to transform many preconceptions of regional economy and society. A truck driving from Guwahati to Bangkok in merely a day or two seems fanciful in 2006. We forget that it’s not that far, and that the historical connections between these two regions are strong in many ways.

Imagine packing the kids in the car and leaving from Chiang Mai on a two-week family trip to Assam. Imagine catching the bus from Aizawl and ending up in Pattaya two days later.

This would be unprecedented. But…in a few short years, we may see northeast India very differently.