Trade volumes climb on import growth

Myanmar’s bilateral trade this financial year until end-July is worth over US$500 million more than over the same period last year, according to figures compiled by the Ministry of Commerce.

Trade so far this financial year is worth a total of $8.951 billion, up from $8.437 billion in the first four months of the last financial year.

“Trade in agricultural products, fisheries products and finished products from the industries sectors increased this year as a result of relaxed regulations in several sectors,” said Daw Khin Myo Yee, from the international relations and information department under the Ministry of Commerce.

Myanmar has earned more than $3.459 billion from exports so far this year, compared with $3.324 billion over the same time frame last year.

Of this, over $1.810 million comes from finished products from industries, $1.076 billion from agricultural produce, over $305 million from the mining sector, $129 million from fisheries, $58 million from forestry related trade and over $115 million from other products.

A majority of Myanmar’s exports are to China and Thailand, followed by other neighbouring countries as well as ASEAN members and the European market.

U Han Tun, chair of the Myanmar Fisheries Federation, told The Myanmar Times on August 6 that he expects exports of fisheries products to be worth more than $430 million by the end of this financial year. Last year, fisheries related exports were worth $418 million.

“One of the factors likely to boost the value of fisheries exports this year is rising prices, so I hope the value of the sector’s exports will be higher than last year,” he said. Myanmar exports fisheries products to Asean countries as well as to Canada, France, Italy, the Middle East, the Netherlands, South Africa, the USA and the UK.

The value of beans and pulses exports has not risen, despite the fact that international prices have risen by almost 50pc.

In addition, the export of garments has fallen as productivity in the sector is down, due to instability between factory owners and workers, resulting in fewer orders from foreign traders, U Myat Thin Aung, president of the Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone in Yangon, told The Myanmar Times.

He said that Myanmar should start producing more value-added products including jade, gemstones and wood to export to international countries, which would result in more income for the country.

Over $2.519 billion worth of exports had been shipped by sea, and over $804 million had been exported over Myanmar’s borders as of end-July, according to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce.

At the end of the 2015-2016 financial year, Daw Khin Myo Yee predicts that Myanmar will have earned $32 billion from exports. Last year, estimates predicted the value of exports would be $25 billion but year-end figures exceeded expectations at $29 billion.

This financial year to date, imports have cost Myanmar a total of $5.492 billion, up from $5.113 billion last year to July. Over $2.996 billion of imports were materials needed for businesses, around $1.5 billion were industrial materials and over $990 million were commodities, according to the Ministry of Commerce figures.

Myanmar’s trade deficit has risen quickly since fiscal year 2012, when the country recorded a surplus of $100 million. In financial year 2013, the deficit was $91 million, rising to $2.6 billion in financial year 2014, according to statistics published by the Central Statistical Organisation.

In financial year 2015, the deficit jumped again by 88pc to over $4.6 billion, according to The Global New Light of Myanmar.

Source: Myanmar Times

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