Roads slow Thailand trade

Thailand officials expect to boost bilateral trade with Myanmar by 20 percent in the coming year as progress is made on logistics and trade promotion, according to government officials.

Trade between the two countries takes advantage of the 2400 kilometre shared border, generating US$8 billion worth of trade last year, said Thai deputy minister of commerce Apiradi Tantraporn.

Thailand is Myanmar’s second-largest trading partner after China, though weak transport connections still slow commerce.

Mrs Apriadi said she hopes improvements such as upgrades on the Yangon to Myawaddy road will be completed this year, cutting the travel time from a as little as 7 or 8 hours. It can presently take over a day to make the trip.

“When the roads are in much better condition, there can be more trade between Thailand and Myanmar,” she said.
Myanmar’s exports to Thailand totaled about $4 billion in 2014, and about $3.8 billion came the other way, according to Boon Intiratana, minister counsellor (commercial) at the Thai Embassy. By comparison, trade in 2012-13 fiscal year totaled $4.8 billion.

Future commercial exchanges will increasingly be services rather than goods, he added.

Mr Boon also said the change in Thailand’s government last year had not upset trade relations.

“After the taking power, the Thai prime minister has already visited Myanmar twice,” he said. “The two countries’ ministers have close relations, so it can be said there was no effect, and there are better relations now.”

A Thai crackdown on smuggled goods was blamed for a price rise in compressed natural gas (CNG) last year. CNG is the primary fuel for many of Myanmar’s stoves.

Mr Boon said trade has since stabilised, and both countries are prioritising legal, tax-paying trade.

About 200 Thai companies attended an event at the Myanmar Event Park earlier this month promoting trade links between the two countries. Another border fair is planned at the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border from 28 January to February 1.


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