Sep 5, 2015

Myanmar border trade tops $2.4bn

Trade between Myanmar and its four neighbouring countries has reached US$2.48 billion (85 billion baht) in the financial year to date, a Myanmar Commerce Ministry official said.

Myanmar shares borders with Bangladesh, China, India and Thailand. Exports to these four countries from the start of April until the end of August generated US$1.59 billion (57 billion baht) in income, the Myanmar Times on Thursday quoted Win Myint, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, as saying.

Over the same period, Myanmar imported $884 million worth of goods, he said. Imports from China were worth $618 million in the first five months of this financial year, according to official figures, while the value of exports to China was $1.48 billion.

Trade between Myanmar and Thailand was worth $349 million in total over the same period, $259 million of which was spent by Myanmar on imports. Myanmar has exported $16 million worth of goods to India and spent $6 million on imports from Asia’s third-largest economy so far this year, said Win Myint.

Total trade between Myanmar and Bangladesh is over $3 million, comprising $3.3 million of exports and just $30,000 of imports, he added.

Trade with China accounts for 87% of Myanmar’s border trade, while trade with Thailand is 12%, according to the ministry. Official statistics suggest border trade with India accounts for just 0.8% of the total and trade with Bangladesh a mere 0.2%, said Win Myint.

Official figures show border trade worth $407 million in financial year 2002. By 2007 this had reached more than $1 billion, increasing to $6.8 billion last fiscal year – with $4.2 billion in exports and $2.4 billion in imports, according to the ministry.

“Border trading is gradually increasing, but there are some challenges,” Win Myint said.

Last year officials told the Myanmar Times that poor law enforcement at the borders and a lack of resolve in tackling illicit industries has led to wide-scale smuggling that could account for annual losses of up to half a trillion dollars, the equivalent of 20 times Myanmar’s estimated total trade volume.

They claimed that the government lacks the capacity to monitor border trade, and customs officials are in short supply and vulnerable to bribery and corruption.

A number of goods, including alcohol and agricultural products are traded illegally across the country’s porous borders, but the largest losses come from timber, gems and minerals exports, they said.

Source: Bangkok Post