The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) has requested the government to reopen old ports, in a bid to reduce transaction costs, as high charges at Yangon International Port are forcing international traders to move to other countries, according to a recent report in the Myanma Alinn.
“The port charges are high, and we need immediate action to compete with other countries in a highly competitive market,” said U Ye Min Aung, general secretary of MRF.
The MRF has submitted the request to reopen the Mawlamyine, Pathein, Sittway and Dawei ports, which were trading hubs during the colonial-era. Currently, the general port charges have increased by some US$30, compared with India, Thailand, Viet Nam and Pakistan, forcing international buyers to move to foreign markets.
From April 2017 to early February 2018, some 3 million tonnes of rice and broken rice, worth $948 million, were exported to foreign trade partners. Also, 4 million tonnes of rice are expected to be shipped by 2020. Therefore, the MRF wants more sea ports and waterways to be developed.
To reuse old ports, preparedness is needed to improve the waterways, port facilities and the export/import process, U Win Khant, Permanent s Secretary of the Transportation and Communications Ministry, told Myanma Alinn.
Earlier, Myanmar’s rice was exported to 40 countries. The rice export market has now penetrated some 62 countries, including China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Belgium and Poland.
Last month, the export price of rice was between $356 to $430 per tonne, depending on its quality. Some rice varieties bring in more profits through the sea trade, while others fetch a higher price through the border trade, according to rice merchants.
The main challenges in the rice industry are the availability of pedigree seeds, high input costs, high production costs, the lack of technology, high transaction costs and logistics problems, said U Mann Kyaw Win, Deputy Chairman of MRF.
Rice is integral to Myanmar’s agricultural products. Some 75 per cent of the production is used for domestic consumption, while the remaining is exported. Last fiscal year, some 1.7 million tonnes of rice and broken rice, worth $554 million, were exported.
Phyo Lwin Aung (AMIA)