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Government adds targeted export products

In a bid to contain the country’s trade deficit, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) will include a new list of products targeted for exports under the National Export Strategy.

Strategically identified by the ministry and the private sector in response to market demand, the list will include fruits, handicrafts, gems and jewelry, processed food products and IT services.

The products will be added to an existing list of seven other promoted sectors, including rice, beans, pulses and oilseeds, fisheries, forestry products, textiles and garments, rubber and tourism services, according to U Aung Soe, director general of the Myanmar Trade Promotion Organisation under the ministry.

Studies are currently being conducted on the feasibility and benefits of promoting the new products for export, U Aung Soe added.

The move comes just months after the Myanmar Investment Commission invited proposals for investments in 13 import substitution industries last December.

These include automobiles and auto parts, tractors and trailers, telephones and telecom equipment, machines, power distribution and installation, iron and steel construction materials, fertilisers, plastic raw materials, paper, chemicals, edible oil, medical products and beauty products.

The government is scaling up efforts to plug a widening trade deficit, where the value of imports now exceeds exports by around K3.5 billion.

Dr Vilem Semerak, lecturer at the Institute of Economic Studies of Charles University in the Czech Republic, whose research focuses on economic reforms and trade in Myanmar, told The Myanmar Times in January that import substitution, while positive for the economy in the short term, should ultimately lead to the industrialisation of the sectors in involved.

He said industrialisation should help Myanmar develop and expand its export market as well as help it leverage its comparative advantages in production, which adds more value over the long term compared to simply replacing import products with locally made goods.

Myanmar is well-placed to build up its export sector owing to its weak exchange rate. Since 2013, the kyat has depreciated by more than 60 percent against the dollar, which favours exporters as prices for locally produced goods become more competitive in the international market.

Source : Myanmar Times

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