Thursday, August 17, 2017

Myanmar hopes to boost South Korea trade ties

Fresh from their second outing in Seoul, Myanmar producers are looking forward to enhanced trade with South Korea, particularly in value-added products. The experience will also be useful in the ASEAN economic community that is due to come into effect next month, they said.

Nine Myanmar companies took part in the “ASEAN Fair 2015: Touch and Taste ASEAN” from November 18 to 21, along with about 100 companies from other countries across the regional bloc.

The event was organised by the ASEAN-Korea Centre as its yearly flagship program showcasing food, beverages, culture and tourism in the 10 ASEAN countries.

Participants from Myanmar included Ah Yee Taung tea leaf company, cashew nuts from Cheen Cheen, traditional htoe mout from Myint Myint Khin, green tea from Power Maw Shan, dried mango from Tha Zin New Family Trading, coffee from Ywar Ngan, and companies Golden Horse, Kaung Ko Group and Myanmar Phoenix Manufacturing.

Daw Mya Mya Sein, deputy director of the Myanmar Trade Centre under the Ministry of Commerce, said in Seoul last week that it was Myanmar’s second trip to the Korean trade show.

“This year, we showed dried mango, as well as noting the high demand for roast beans and white cow peas in Korea,” she said.

“Last year, cashew nut companies received many contacts from Korean buyers, and we exported several containers to Korea this year.”

On November 16 to 17, exhibitors and government officials were briefed on Korean quarantine and export/import procedures.

Daw Mya Mya Sein said, “This improved our knowledge of how to export to Korea and which foods are in high demand there, as well as learning how other ASEAN countries convert their raw goods into finished products. That way, we can produce [value-added products] ourselves instead of importing them.”

For example, there is a market in Korea for Myanmar “One Diamond” or sein ta lone mangoes, but only if they are frozen, she said.

“The problem is, we don’t have enough machines. They want 10 to 20 tonnes a day, frozen to minus 18C. We have only one freezing machine,” said Daw Than Than Swe, president of Mandalay Region Mango Group.

“One Diamond” mangoes are already exported to China, the Philippines, Mexico and Thailand, where buyers favour its 18-25 percent sugar content.

“The Japanese have also expressed an interest, but in Korea we are closer to a contract. Last year, we exported sliced mango to Korea and made more money than in other countries,” said Daw Than Than Swe. The next step is to overcome the lack of freezing equipment.

“If the Koreans can provide heavy machines that can produce three tonnes an hour, then we can produce the quantities they want,” said Daw Than Than Swe.