Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Return migration no impact on Thai-Myanmar trade

Despite the decline in import flow from Thailand at the Myawaddy border trade camp, the return of Myanmar workers from Thailand last month has no significant impact on bilateral trade, assistant secretary of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) U Khin Maung Lwin told The Myanmar Times.

Myanmar migrant workers without documents have been returning to their homes as the Thai labour law was recently amended to include severe punishment and increase in fines by the government.

Under current situations, it doesn’t have, and will not have, any impact on bilateral trade, he said.

“There will have no impact on trade due to return migration. There is no blockage to the trade flow. The trade mechanism is regularly in operation,” U Myo Aung, a member from the Myawaddy Border Trade Organisation, said.

However, as the MOC has reduced the number of trucks permitted under import licenses via border routes, the import volume at the Myawaddy border trade camp has declined, U Khin Maung Lwin said.

“The MOC reduced the number of trucks to be imported with one license.

“In the past, one company was allowed to import five to 10 trucks per license but it has been reduced to one truck per license,” he continued.

The reduction in truck import is a means to cut the country’s trade deficit.

Trade volume at the Myawaddy border camp at the end of June, in this fiscal year, amounts to US$14 million in export and $181 million in import. This resulted in a total trade volume of $195 million.

Compared to the same period last year, export volume increased by $0.6 million but import volume decreased by more than $9 million, the assistant secretary said.

Although the number of trucks allowed to import under one license was reduced, the immediate impact is limited. There are about 100 old licenses, valid for 5-months, which are already issued, hence there will be no impact on truck import. But within three months after the expiration of those licenses, the changes will be felt and government revenues might decline, merchant U Myo Aung said.

Among Thai-Myanmar border trade camps, Myawaddy camp – where fish and onions are major export items – is the main import gate, whereas Kawthoung and Myeik border trade camps are main export gates for marine and fishery products.

So far, trade volumes at Tachileik, Kawthoung and Myeik Thai-Myanmar border trade camps have already exceeded those of last year’s. Bilateral trade across borders have resumed.

According to statistics from the MOC, Myanmar has had a trade surplus with Thailand since the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Bilateral trade volume in 2016-17 totalled over $4.27 billion.

Bilateral trade in this fiscal year has so far reached over $687 million.

Translation by Zaw Nyunt