By Nyein Nyein
Suspension of Sino-Myanmar border trade is dependent upon coronavirus diagnosis, said U Min Thein, vice-chairman of Muse Rice Wholesale Centre. After COVID-19 positive patients were found in Ruili (Shweli in Myanmar language) in China on 12 September, China has restricted travelling into and out of the town and has imposed lockdown except for hospitals and supermarkets in Ruili since 14 September. China has locked down a city bordering Myanmar and will open the crossing after they have conducted COVID-19 tests. So, it will take a week. China’s Customs clearance office was also suspended starting from 15 September.
“After China has imposed lockdown, they have been testing around 50,000 people a day starting from 16 September. It will take four days to know the results. There are more than 200,000 people to test. After testing, the gate will be opened within seven days if only a few people are found positive in Ruili. We also assume that the Customs clearance office will also be reopened. If the Customs clearance office remains closed, the border trade will be stopped completely,” he confirmed. At present, the trucks are permitted to enter via Muse border. But the trucks can go up to Jiegao only. The goods could not be exported directly to Ruili. Moreover, the exported goods from China reaching Jiegao can only be imported to the country, he added.
“The export items such as rice, onion, chilli, aquatic products and other products cannot enter Chain while the imported goods such as construction materials, electronics and medicines also cannot reach Myanmar. One hundred per cent of business activities with China have halted as of today,” he said. There are 18 border trade camps in Myanmar. The country is carrying out border trade with China, Thailand, Bangladesh and India.
The total trade value at all border trade camps exceeded $9.9 billion in this financial year (FY) of 2019-2020. And, the value of the Sino-Myanmar border trade touched over $5.4 billion, which accounts for 60 per cent of the total border trade.
The trade between Muse-Ruili route has reached over $4.5 billion in this FY. The traded products are rice, agricultural products, crabs, prawns and aquatic products. Moreover, the natural gas exported through the pipelines is also being traded via Muse-Ruili border trade route. (Translated by Hay Mar)