The 2.5-million-ton export target set by the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) for the period from April 2018 to March 2019 is likely to be missed, said rice depots.
“The target may not be achieved this year. During the last fiscal year, border exports of rice stood at 1.5 million tons and so did the maritime exports. We have been suffering from the suspension of rice trade by China and tight confiscation in the border areas. We do not expect to see exports of more than 2 million tons through normal trade,” said U Than Oo, the Secretary of the Bayintnaung commodity depot.
The volume of rice exported to China through the Muse border gate has dropped by half, said U Min Thein, the Vice Chair of the Muse commodity.
“We expect export volume of 1.8 million tons at the most until 31 March. Low prices and tight confiscation at the border are hurting traders. Earlier, around 60,000 tons of rice flowed into China through the Muse checkpoint every day. Now, only 25,000 tons of rice is exported per day. The volume has dropped more than half,” said U Min Thein.
Border traders planned to switch to the maritime trade channel, but a slew of challenges, including the fluctuation in the currency market, has hindered them, said rice merchants.
“Trade capacity via the maritime channel is limited owing to shipping problems, port logistics, and financial constraints. Additionally, the prices in the world market are decreasing. We cannot take risks, given the currency fluctuation. Therefore, the volume of rice exports is not likely to exceed 2 million tons, in any case,” said U Than Oo.
In the last fiscal year (from April 2017 to March 2018), over 3.6 million tons of rice were shipped to foreign countries. Between 1 April and 14 December 2018, Myanmar exported only 1.5 million tons of rice, according to data from the MRF.
By Nyein Nyein (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)