OF the nearly 40 billion baht (US$1.1 billion) worth of trade that passed through the Mae Sot and Myawaddy border posts last fiscal year, about 90 percent, or 36 billion baht worth, represents exports from Thailand to Myanmar, according to Thai statistics.
The Thai fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.
Thai customs officials announced on October 17 that Thai exports to Myanmar included mobile phones and accessories, beer, petrol, and textiles.
The precise value, 36.027 billion baht to end-September, shows an increase of 9.8pc over last year’s figure of 32.805 billion baht, officials said.
Myanmar exports to Thailand through the Myawaddy-Mae Sot border point were worth only 1.869 billion baht.
Of this, the largest element is live cattle. The 49,443 cows were valued at 633.86 million baht. Residents of Mae Sot said they are taken to a cattle market on the outskirts of the town and sold on to farmers.
Second and third on the list of Myanmar exports to Thailand in terms of value were antimony oxide (186.31 million baht) and peanuts (174.79 million baht).
Myanmar exports to Thailand at the border point are down by 5.82pc compared to last year.
Mae Sot customs officials told a press conference on October 17 that Mae Sot was located on the projected East-West Economic Corridor Route that would connect Muse, Tamu, Mandalay and Yangon, bringing potential benefits to millions of people.
Earlier this year, the Thai government seized more than 3.2 square kilometres of land in Mae Sot, including farms and homes, to establish it as one of 10 special economic zones around Thailand’s borders by the end of next year.
The aim is to encourage private sector investment and to boost Thailand’s economic growth. Mae Sot is one of the priority areas selected.
Local residents – including an estimated half a million Myanmar migrant workers – previously expressed reservations to The Myanmar Times over the impact the scheme will have on their livelihood.
Local companies worry that current trade flows and practices will be disrupted, and that big investors will take over. “Mae Sot does business in its own way. I don’t want an SEZ, I want government support for investment. If the government wants to establish an SEZ, they should consult us,” said Pharadon Kanda, vice chair of the Tak Province Chamber of Commerce.
Prayoung Doklamyai, a member of the Thai Human Rights Commission, criticised the haste with which the project has been pushed forward since the current Thai administration took power. He said the initial proposal for an SEZ had been terminated by the Shinawatra government in 2004 because of opposition by local civil society. Subsequent Thai governments had failed to make much progress on the issue.
While stressing that opposition to the scheme did not imply opposition to the current Thai regime, he said the project should not be handled by a temporary government, but by the next elected government of the country.
Source: Myanmar Times