Export outlook poor in short term, but we shall overcome

  • There have been repercussions from the decline in rice exports at the Muse gate, illegal trade, and the recent withdrawal of the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences on Myanmar’s export sector. As a result, we see some difficulties in the short term.
    While Myanmar’s economy may suffer some short-term losses with main buyers restricting or delaying exports in accord with their economy and other circumstances, if the government and private businesses work to improve the quality of finished products and explore new markets, Myanmar’s exports and commerce will gradually rise again in the long run.
    The EU has made multiple changes to its policies concerning Myanmar, depending on the political landscape. Recently, the EU announced it will reintroduce import duties on Indica rice from Myanmar and Cambodia, stating that a significant increase in imports from both countries has hurt farmers from an EU member state. The initial request for trade safeguards on rice imports was tabled by the Italian government in February, 2018 and supported by all other EU rice-growing member states (Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria).
    Currently, 350,000 tons of rice has been exported to EU countries, which makes only 10 per cent of Myanmar’s total rice exports. Of that, only 50,000 tons constitute high-quality rice, while the remaining exports comprise broken rice. Myanmar exports rice to China, Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and the EU, with China being the largest market.
    The recent market instability in the European Union has been felt on a global scale and the blockade on Myanmar’s rice exports to EU involves only 10 per cent of its total exports, therefore, there will be no major losses to our country.
    However, we must accept that there will be repercussions from the decline in rice exports at Muse, illegal trade, and the withdrawal of trade preferences by the EU. We must be wary that this will likely influence other foreign buyers to reduce prices.
    Myanmar has always been a rice-growing country. Currently, Myanmar exports 1.8 million tons of rice around the world. Our exports reached over 3 million tons in the previous years, but given the current climate, we may see exports of around 2.6 million tons.
    Although a decline in exports seems inevitable, if the government and private businesses unite then we can overcome these challenges. We believe that by improving the quality of our finished products and exploring new markets, we will succeed in boosting Myanmar’s economy again.
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