Myanmar raises trade target, aims to grow agri-exports this year

Myanmar is forecasting higher trade volumes in fiscal 2020-21 compared to the previous year despite potential setbacks from COVID-19, said U Khin Muang Lwin, assistant secretary from the Ministry of Commerce under the National League of Democracy government.

The ministry is expecting trade volumes to reach US$34.7 billion in the current fiscal year, with exports dropping to US$16.2 billion and imports adding up to US$18.5 billion, lower than last year.Myanmar stops all int’l commercial flights from landing.

In fiscal 2019-20, trade volumes amounted to US$36.6 billion, higher than the ministry’s US$33 billion forecast, with exports totalling US$17.6 billion and imports reaching US$19 billion.This year’s exports will be supported mainly by agriculture, livestock and fisheries, which are expected to offset a decline in garment manufacturing due to COVID-19.
Myanmar’s garment exports declined by more than US$60 million in fiscal 2019-20 compared to the previous year and will continue to be under pressure in the current fiscal year, said U KhinMaung Lwin.

Garment exports in 2019-20 were valued at $4.8 billion. This year so far, revenues have totalled just US$ 87 million, which is a decline of more than US$172 million compared to the same period last year.In contrast, demand for crops such as corn has increased and bean exports are expected to be stable on higher margins. Meanwhile, demand for fisheries has also been on the rise since last year.

“Trade volumes are forecast to increase this year and despite the uncertainty around COVID-19, we will raise efforts to exceed our forecasts,” U Khin Maung Lwin said.“We will take action to promote our best crops internationally, including rice, corn, fruits and beans,” he said, adding that similar efforts will be made to promote Myanmar fisheries and livestock,as “these areas have good export potential.”But local traders are sceptical, saying there are challenges that have to be addressed on multiple fronts, such as unpredictability at the Myanmar-China border gates, volatile international demand,as well as the weaker dollar exchange rate, which have all led to unstable prices.

“World trade is affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic and export income may not be as good as previous years. Already, there are farmers who have stopped growing certain crops due to weaker demand,” said U Thein Aung, Chair of the Myanmar Farmer Development Association.Myanmar needs to make preparations and arrangements to increase trade volumes as it might face setbacks due to COVID-19 in fiscal 2020-21, said U Than Myint, Minister of Commerce under the National League for Democracy government, during a virtual conference in late October. Myanmar can further increase exports by producing value-added products which are competitive in price and quality, he added.Myanmar recorded a trade deficit of US$1.3 billion in fiscal 2019-20, up from over US$1 billion in fiscal 2018-19. – Translated

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Source : Myanmar Times

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