Coronavirus impacts hurt Sino-Myanmar border trade in current FY

Trucks from Myanmar carrying agro-products, fishery products and animal products wait Chinese buyers at Kyin San Kyawt Gate near Muse.  Photo: Van roh Htan (Muse-IPRD)
Trucks from Myanmar carrying agro-products, fishery products and animal products wait Chinese buyers at Kyin San Kyawt Gate near Muse.  Photo: Van roh Htan (Muse-IPRD)

Sino-Myanmar border trade has registered a decrease of US$123.5 million between 1 October and 17 July in the current financial year 2019-2020, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Data from the ministry show the value of Sino-Myanmar border trade in all five border areas touched over $4.7 billion in the current budget year, which significantly plunged from over $4.83 billion recorded in the year-ago period.
Border trade values totalled $3.89 billion through Muse border in this FY, $123.35 million via Lweje, $430.7 million via Chinshwehaw, $263 million via Kampaiti, and over $4.45 million via Kengtung. The Commerce Ministry’s data showed a drop in trade value through all those border areas.
The decline in trade is attributed to the trade suspension and trade delay amid the tight security measures of coronavirus. China has been stepping up border control measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus infection.
Therefore, Chinese buyers do not come to Myanmar borders in light of pandemic fears, forcing Myanmar truck drivers to leave for Wanding area to sell the goods. As a result of this, the traffic congestions occur both in two sides; Muse and Kyalgaung areas, causing a long queue on road, said Police Deputy Superintendent Chit Sein of No 123 Traffic Police Force (Muse).
The transport delays caused damage to the quality of the goods and doubled the truck fares. The growers and traders are suffering losses during the pandemic, said an official of Muse border depot.
“The border trade situation remains unchanged. Trading is cool during the monsoon season,” he continued.
Next, the export of agricultural products is often halted, on account of China clamping down on illegal goods. Myanmar merchants are facing difficulties in exporting goods to China through the legitimate channel as they find the tax levied by China is too high.
In a bid to lower trade barriers and offer relief to Myanmar traders through the border trade channel, the Ministry of Commerce, the related departments and Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry have been negotiating with China counterparts.
The two countries are making efforts to set up more border economic cooperation zones and promote border trade. Myanmar’s MOC is trying to boost exports of rice, broken rice, agro-products, fruits and fisheries to China through diplomatic negotiations. After a series of negotiation between Myanmar and China, the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) granted licences to 43 Myanmar companies on 10 July 2020 to export the rice to China through a legitimate trade channel.
Myanmar exports rice, sugar, pulses, sesame seeds, corn, dried tea leaves, fishery products, minerals, and animal products to China while it imports agricultural machinery, electrical appliances, iron and steel-related materials, raw industrial goods, and consumer goods from the neighbouring country. — Htet Myat  (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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