Myanmar’s external trade between 1 October and 26 February in the current financial year 2020-2021 shrank to US$12.75 billion, a sharp drop of $3.37 billion compared with the corresponding period of the FY2019-2020, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
During the same period in the previous FY, the trade stood at $16.12 billion, according to data released by the ministry.
During the past five months, Myanmar’s export was worth over $6.45 billion, which plunged from $7.6 billion registered a year-ago period. Meanwhile, the country’s import was valued at $6.29 billion, showing a decrease of $2.223 billion compared with the last FY.
Both sea trade and border trade dropped amid the coronavirus impacts. The neighbouring countries tightened border security and limit the trading time to contain the spread of the virus. Pandemic-induced container shortage pushed up the freight rates to almost triple in Myanmar, causing delays for traders.
Additionally, some ocean liners suspended cargo transport from Myanmar, according to the Myanmar Mercantile Marine Development Association.
Furthermore, the current political conditions drag down the trade. At present, the traders have a transaction problem triggered by the shutdown of the private banks, a market observer shared his opinion.
Myanmar exports agricultural products, animal products, minerals, forest products, and finished industrial goods, while it imports capital goods, raw industrial materials, and consumer goods.
The country’s export sector relies more on the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. The government is trying to reduce the trade deficit by screening luxury import items and boosting exports.
Under the National Planning Law for the Financial Year 2020-2021, Myanmar intends to reach an export target of US$16 billion and import at $18 billion.
The Ministry of Commerce is focusing on reducing the trade deficit, export promotion and market diversification. Since 2011, the Ministry of Commerce has adhered to its reform policy. A series of moves to liberalize and open the economy have been introduced through policy development to improve the trade environment. — KK/GNLM