May 19, 2011

Ministry of Commerce: "This year there will be a flood of money to fund foreign investment projects "

“This year there will be a flood of money to fund foreign investment projects here, including the work at the Dawei deepsea port and continuing work on the oil and gas pipeline to China, so much of the imported items this year will be machinery and construction materials,” a Ministry of Commerce official said.

In addition to the positive investment developments, the trade volume is also expected to rise by about 4 percent year-on-year in the 2011-12 fiscal year, the Ministry of Commerce announced last week.

“The total trade volume is rising year by year but the value of agriculture and fisheries exports reduced last year,” U Win Myint, the Minister of Commerce, said at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s annual general meeting on May 1.

China and Thailand would likely remain the nation’s major trading partners, he added.

“So far we are having difficulty estimating what the total trade volume might be worth [in the 2011-12 year] because of changes to trade policy and the falling prices of some commodity exports,” the official added.

The Ministry of Commerce predicted the 2010-11 fiscal year’s total trade volume would amount to about US$13.4 billion but the actual number was closer to $15 billion, the official said. He added that officials were tipping that to grow by at least 4pc this year, reaching at least $15.6 billion.

The total trade volume in 2009-2010 was $11.8 billion.

U Win Myint said the nation earned about $9 billion from exporting natural gas, mining products, timber, agricultural products and fisheries products. Imports of consumer electronics, foodstuffs, heavy machinery and other goods totalled about $6 billion, leaving a surplus of about $3 billion.

However, U Win Myint said the value of a number of agriculture exports, such as rice and beans and pulses, fell slightly in the 2010-11 year.

“The main reason that agricultural exports fell was the weather. And our domestic beans and pulses prices have been higher than international competitors, which makes them far less attractive to our major buyer, India,” he said.

He added that the country’s beans and pulses industry was still suffering from speculation, where some traders buy and sell the more valuable crops, such as toor and matpe, without actually holding that amount of stock. U Win Myint said such practices allowed prices to rapidly escalate and created concern among potential buyers.

“Our exports depend on price and quality – if they are not competitive on both of those they will not sell,” said U Hnin Oo, the chairman of Myanmar Shrimp Association.

Source: Myanmar Times