Mango farmers frustrated by money changers in Muse

The Ministry of Commerce is working to arbitrate a Mandalay dispute between mango farmers and the Muse money changers they claim are giving them an unfair deal.

Local mango farmers and merchants generally export their produce to nearby China, and often must make use of informal currency brokers in the border city of Muse to trade their yuan for kyat.

Yet the mango farmers say finding an honest black-market money changer in Muse is a difficult affair, as the trade is open to cheating by unscrupulous agents. The mango farmers are asking for an official government-run money exchange centre for yuan-kyat exchange.

“We’ve asked for this because there are 100 informal exchanges in Muse,” said U Yin Gyi, a 60-year-old mango farmer from Mandalay’s Amarapura township.

“Sometimes the exchange rate is different on our vouchers than what they give us.

“We also end up with yuan from the trade, even though Muse traders say it is hard to exchange kyat and Chinese yuan. For these reasons the government should open a money exchange centre in Muse,” he said at a July 19 meeting held at Mandalay Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

U Zaw Min, a director at the Ministry of Commerce, said at the meeting it can be difficult to obtain foreign currencies, and that there are a number of rules in place. He said the ministry will assist farmers with making an official request to the Central Bank of Myanmar to allow a money exchange centre in Muse as well as in Myawaddy and Tachileik near Thailand to ease the process of currency exchange.

The kyat has also been depreciating against the Chinese yuan, dropping from about K156 four months ago to K190 yesterday.

U Ko Ko Htwe, chair of the Mandalay fruit association, said Muse currency traders had handled the currency exchange directly, but the farmers now want to get involved as they are frustrated by losing profits to pay them.

On the Chinese side, a large currency exchange centre was opened n the Jiegao Economic Development Zone in Ruili, Yunnan province, on March 31. It is frequented by Myanmar rice exporters and importers of goods like textiles and fertilisers.

The mango farmers are also looking for solutions to other issues including duty-free access, taxation problems, transportation costs from the Myanmar customs post at 105 Miles to the Chinese side, and receiving receipts.

Source: Myanmar Times

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