Myanmar’s foreign trade value in the 2017-2018 fiscal year (FY) reached US$33.32 billion, recording the highest value in the country’s history. The trade value was $27.72 billion in the 2015-2016 FY and $29.21 billion in the 2016-2017 FY.
The increase in foreign trade can be credited to improvements in border trade and ocean trade. Of the $33.32 billion trade, ocean trade amounted to $24.86 billion and border trade amounted to $8.46 billion. The Ministry of Commerce and Trade stated the ocean trade increased by $3427.25 million and border trade by $686.95 million compared to the previous FY.
Myanmar’s exports include agricultural products, such as rice, broken rice, corn/maize and rubber, fishery products, industrial finished products and cut-make-pack garments. Its export value reached $14.67 billion last FY, exceeding the export value of the preceding years. As a result, the trade deficit was brought down from $5.44 billion in the 2015-2016 FY to $5.21 billion in the 2016-2017 FY. It was $3.97 billion in the 2017-2018 FY.
Among the exports, rice exports proved to be the most profitable. An estimated 3.584 million tonnes of rice were exported in the 2017-2018 FY, the largest volume to be sold since Myanmar gained independence. Myanmar exported 3.59 million tonnes of rice between the years 1934 and 1935, and was the largest exporter of rice in the world then.
Myanmar is among the top five rice exporting countries this year. Recently, the base price for buying paddy was fixed at Ks500,000 per hundred tin baskets. This will ensure that more income will flow in for farmers.
Border trade too has been on the rise and looks promising. In the previous years, some 1.8 million tonnes of rice were exported through border trade, while 1.6 million tonnes of rice were exported through ocean trade, combining to generate $1 billion income in foreign trade for rice alone. Similarly in the previous years, some 70 per cent of the rice was exported through border trade and 30 per cent through ocean trade. The expansion into new markets has improved the ocean trade recently. Also, in the previous years, rice exports to China were legalised by Myanmar, but were still illegal on China’s side. However, this year, Yunnan has legally offered to purchase one million tonnes of rice, thus stabilising the border trade to a certain extent.