Bean Exporters Keen to Gain From US Tariff Cuts, But Can’t Sell There Just Yet

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Myanmar’s bean exporters are looking to find their way into Western markets, where they can benefit from special tariffs following the normalization of trade with the US and EU.

A trade association representing growers of beans says finding export routes to the new markets would reduce reliance on India, which is currently the biggest foreign buyer by a large margin.

But U Soe Win Mg, an advisor for the Myanmar Pulses, Beans and Sesame Seeds Merchants Association, said that while exporters were keen the US and the EU, farmers are completely unaccustomed to the quality standards procedures that are the norm in those markets.

“If the beans we exported contained a large amount of pesticides or residue, the buyers would ask us where we bought it from, from which farmers, which pesticides they used,” he said.

“Our farmers are not familiar with recording this information.”

The reinstatement of the American Generalized System of Preferences in Myanmar earlier this month means many beans and pulses grown here would be eligible for lower import tariffs in the US, but only if they could meet the required standards.

The departments of agriculture and commerce have been training bean farmers in good agricultural practice, or GAP, but this small initiative only begins to deal with the obstacles faced in penetrating US and European markets, said U Myint Cho, director of the Consumers Affairs department at the Ministry of Commerce.

“The farmers must be able to show records of traceability, such as when they ploughed, when they spread the seeds, when they used pesticides, when they applied the fertilizers. These kinds of records are required,” he said.

“Frankly speaking, we still have to persuade them with incentives like lucky draws so they show up to training.”

Another problem, said U Soe Win Mg, is that tastes in the US market don’t correspond to what is being grown in Myanmar at the moment. For instance there is much less interest in mung beans in the States than in India, which buys many of the legumes from Myanmar.

“Myanmar mostly produces mung beans,” he said, “if the US wants different kinds like kidney bean and butter beans, they are not produced on a large scale in Myanmar.”

Nevertheless, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, who declined to named, was optimistic about the country’s capacity: “Our farmers can surely grow it only if there are markets. It’s important that the buyers confirm what kind of beans they want. We need to understand the demands of the markets and we are working closely with the Ministry of Commerce on that issue.”

U Soe Win Mg, the trade association member, said: “For the European Market, they’ve sent audit teams to negotiate and to check the quality of sprout beans. The US hasn’t done anything like that so far though. However, it seems to me that the US market would accept our beans if Europe does.”

 

Source: Myanmar Business Today

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