Jun 29, 2011

Rise in Myanmar exports

They might be barely breaking even – or even losing money – but exporters of agriculture commodities shipped more produce in the first quarter of this fiscal year compared to last year, a Ministry of Commerce official said last week.

“Traders have regular buyers and don’t want to lose market share, even if they don’t make any money or lose a little,” the official said.

In recent years exports have been blunted by either poor weather that has reduced crop sizes or high domestic prices that make exporting unattractive, said a Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) official, who is also an agro-based foodstuff exporter.

He said that despite the treacherous export climate caused by the low exchange rate of the US dollar, many traders are weathering the storm.

“Most big traders function as importers and exporters. For example, several big beans and pulses exporters also import construction materials, which means that when one of the two sectors is difficult they can switch their attention to the other,” he said.

He added that there are a host of factors that affect the trading environment such as the weather, the political situation and the international or business climate.

“We exported a lot in May and June but didn’t earn any profits,” said U Win Aung, a beans and pulses exporter based at the Bayintnaung Wholesale Commodity Exchange Centre in Yangon.

He added that exporters have lost between 10 and 40pc on their export sales during May and June but expect to mitigate their losses in coming months by adjusting the exchange rate used to calculate prices or by selling domestically.

In the 2011-2012 fiscal year to June 10, about 750,000 tonnes of agricultural products, such as rice, bean and pulses, sesame and rubber had been exported, earning about US$492 million, the Ministry of Commerce official said. At the same time last year, exports of 430,000 tonnes worth about $320 million had been recorded.

The most lucrative export crop this year to date has been black matpe, which has earned about $132 million from 114,000 tonnes, a year-on-year increase of $42 million and 34,000 tonnes.

Fruit exports, specifically mango and watermelon, have doubled in value compared to last year to $26 million, although the amount exported has increased to 100,000 tonnes from 60,000.

Source: Myanmar Times