While border trade between Burma and China appears to be expanding, there are continuing glitches in cross-border business with India. Analysts speculate that the two situations could be connected. Trade via the crossing at Muse, between Burma and China, totaled $310 million in the first half of this year, said the Burmese Ministry of Commerce—apparently a rise of 21 percent over the same period in 2005. The bulk of that trade was Chinese goods coming into Burma, but perhaps the Burmese don’t really want them. Among merchandise blocked by Indian officials from entering Mizoram State at the Rid border crossing are . . . Chinese-made shirts, slippers, electronic goods and processed foods.
Of course, almost everybody, including the Indian government, like to join in the bellowing chorus calling for greater regional integration, investment and trade. On-the-ground realities are, however, rarely in tune with that song. This small excerpt from The Irrawaddy‘s excellent new online column is one indication that efforts to link the Chinese and Indian economies together across the Burmese “bridge” still have a long way to go.