Mumbai– The State Bank of India resumed banking operations in Myanmar after a gap of 53 years by inaugurating a branch in the country’s largest city Yangon on Monday — becoming the first Indian bank to do so, an official said here.

SBI Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya, along with Central Bank of Myanmar Vice-Governor Khin Saw Oo and other top officials, was present at the function to mark the inauguration ceremony, which marks the Indian bank’s presence in 37 countries with 54 branches and 198 offices.

“Operationalisation of our branch has revived the SBI’s relations with Myanmar. Our relations dates back to 1861 when the erstwhile Bank of Bengal operated its branch in then Rangoon (now Yangon),” Bhattacharya said on the occasion.

During bank nationalisation in Burma, the Rangoon branch of Bank of Bengal was taken over by the Peoples’ Bank No.8 of Burma in February 1963, she said.

In due course, the SBI aspires to become an important link in trade and commece between Myanmar and the rest of the world, she added.

In early 2016, the SBI was awarded a banking licence to open a branch in Myanmar with the objective of extending wholesale banking services to foreign corporates.

India has been a major trading partner of Myanmar and since the signing of the trade agreement between the two countries in 1970, bilateral trade has grown steadily from $328 million in 1997-1998 to $2.052 billion in 2015-2016.

Earlier, to mark the branch inauguration, Bhattacharya donated equipment for the recreation of cancer-affected children at the Children Yangon Hospital on Sunday, the 147th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

She appreciated the hospital and the World Child Cancer in providing necessary medical support as well as facilitating aid and donations for the cancer-afflicted children.