The New Horizon

A new world explored with a rational view

Asian Highway Through Bangladesh : The Role Of Myanmar

with 15 comments

My latest article on Asian Highway.

In my past article, I have discussed the implications of Bangladesh refusing transit to India. However, Bangladesh didn’t totally objected the Asian Highway plan, but they want Asian Highway – 1 to be re-routed through Mynamar. In this article, I will discuss the feasability of that alternative plan.

Equation of Trade
Myanmar runs trade surplus against both Bangladesh and India. India is their second largest exporter and third largest business partner. US imposed a sanction on import and investment on Myanmar from 1997. Since then, China, India and the Asean became the major revenue earner for Myanmar. In this unipolar world, facing a US sanction, Myanmar therefore needs support from both India and China to survive.

Political Power
Myanmar is ruled by their Military ‘junta’ from 1962. Though the Army ruler Ne-win gave up power in 1988, the democracy never really came back to the country. As the nations Nobel winner leader Aung San Suu Ki remains arrested, the junta pile up money at the cost of common people. The junta are actively involved in several human rights abuse cases, most of them to suppress peoples’ right.

Asian Highway and Myanmar
Given the above political and economical background, it is obvious that Myanmar will like to get linked to India, China and ASEAN countries through this Asian Highway. Next question is, what is about the link with Bangladesh?

The Asian Highway proposed route by Bangladesh runs through Tenkaf in Chittagong to Arakan province in Myanmar. Rakhine (Arakan) province has been troublesome for Yangon (Myanmar capital) for some years. It is reported that 40 percent of its population is Muslim, known as Rohingya, derived from “Rohang”, ancient name of the Rakhine province. Hence, the route from Myanmar to Bangladesh was consistently objected to by Myanmar from late 70s during ESCAP meetings. The objection is believed to be for reasons of national security. It continues to remain the same. All is not well in that province because thousands of Rohingyas have occasionally fled from Myanmar and taken refuge in Bangladesh, first in 1978 and then in 1991 and in 1997. The net result – Myanmar does not agree on transnational route through Arakan province to Bangladesh and has been comfortable to re-route the Highway through India’s northeastern states.

Geo-political reality
Bangladesh and India are neighbours. This geographical reality cannot be changed. Bangladesh has to develop a range and pattern of economic relations with India that will help Bangladesh to achieve a high rate of economic growth. Because of the economic size and strength of India, the distribution of gains from economic cooperation will not always be equal between the two countries. But the bottomline should be – whether Bangladesh has gains or not. Bangladesh may not compare its gains with that for India on each sector. To evaluate differential gains for each country is a challenge for Bangladesh policy makers. It is a delicate balancing act and does not correspond to a neat mathematical formula.

As I concluded earlier, Bangladesh government may seriously reconsider its position in respect of signing the Asian Highway network for long-term interest. The public have the right to know from the government how refusal to sign the Asian Highway agreement serves the national interest. Let there be a public debate on this important issue, if it does not take place in the Parliament.

Courtesy : The Daily Star


Written by Diganta

January 20, 2006 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

15 Responses

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  1. […] Dhaka-Chittagong-Gundum-Myanmar route (roughly shown here, wrote about it before), he noted that in future if Bangladesh can convince Myanmar, it could be included in AH […]

  2. high time to pay more n more importance on look east policy . b more friendly with myanmar.chittagong must not b ignored…asian high way should connect ctg–it has land, sea n air support facilities.mayor mohiuddin correctly pointed out—in considering asian highway–ignoring ctg would b disasterous(asian highway te ctg bad deya hobe attoghati…….)–connecting 7 sisters would also b another attoghati for us. bad deya + kora =attoghati..should b considerate enough to consent……for any option


    October 24, 2009 at 1:20 pm

  3. considering the route of asian highway-no question of big n small– both india n myanmar should b our friend. we r already connected with time to b connected with myanmar to b onward connected with china-vietnam-laos to fareast asia…..chittagong should b a place of afresh breathing….. lets not ignore ctg


    October 24, 2009 at 1:56 pm

  4. I don’t see a reason why both routes are not considered. This is not at all zero sum game, we can have both routes and choice should be upto the transporters to get into the road.


    October 25, 2009 at 9:43 am

  5. After reading the article , It seems to me that route of asian highway through Myanmar will be viable for Bangladesh with which I do not personally agree.In the era of globalization and connectivity , Bangladesh cannot afford to be isolated from India and Myanmar. Bangladesh suffers a trade deficit with India . Bangladesh can minimize the gap by developing a healthy economic relationship with Myanmar. Due to very logical reason, it is not psosiblel for Bangladesh to cover up the trade gap with India. So Bangladesh can gain a advantageous position by adding with Myanmar through route as well as minimize the trade gap.


    December 28, 2009 at 4:39 am

  6. Bangladesh is a developing country.It’s good that Bangladesh will connect with Asian high way.It doesn’t matter which rout it will take.Fact is how Bangladesh government will control those vehicles? How will they sure that smugglers are not using Asian high way? Asian high way must connect with Myanmar, India and Bangladesh.What ever happens Bangladeshi people must know their country’s interest with Asian high way.

    Md Shamsul Arefin

    May 10, 2010 at 1:51 pm

  7. Is there anything new on this topic?

    I am writing today, 18th July 2010.

    I feel that B.D. will benefit greatly if Myanmar finally agrees to have the Asian Highway built from B.D. via Myanmar to China – Thailand – Laos and so forth!

    Maybe conservative Awami League will move more swiftly, business and money minded as they are … (sorry!) …


    July 18, 2010 at 3:36 pm

  8. Asian highway is obviously very important for Bangladesh in global context in order to get benefit. Some unexpected incidents may happen. But Bangladesh Govt. have to have proper measures for protection those.

    Sanjoy Roy, University of Dhaka

    July 20, 2010 at 8:11 am

  9. Asian Highway is very much important for the Bangladesh and surroundings. We may connect this through India and Myanmar as the Government to be decided which one the best.

    Md. Anowar Hossain

    July 27, 2010 at 4:58 pm

  10. I also suggested that the Government can decide to connect the highway asap.

  11. The most partinent issue is to see whether the route proposed earlier by ESCAP through the ‘seven sisters’ serves Bangladeh at all.
    It has been elaborated by Dr. Ferdaus Ahmad Quarishi and others through so many newspaper articles and TV presentations that AH routing through Manipur, Nagaland, Assam and Meghalay,as proposed by ESCAP and hard pressed by India,has nothing to do with Bangladesh. Hence it does not matter whether Bangladesh signs it or not, as far as Bangladesh is concerned. India tried all th way to get that route only to get a direct connection between its western part and the ‘seen sisters’. Now that banglades agrees to allow transit to india, perhaps India will have no more interest in the AH. it is high time that Bangladesh and Myanmar works up their ‘friendship road’ for mutual benefit, which will give Bangladesh direct access to ASEAN countries and China.


    August 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm

  12. […] se les prendió el foco y construyeron una de las carreteras de mayor kilometraje, se trata de la Asian Highway AH5 que tiene una longitud de 10,380 kilómetros pavimentados, por lo que se puede circular […]

  13. […] Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway routes through Myanmar-India-China Asian Highway Through Bangladesh : The Role Of Myanmar Strengthening Regional Transport Connectivity among BCIM […]

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