MYANMAR’S trading sector stands to benefit from the government’s
relaxing of shipping restrictions, which will allow private companies
to operate international shipping lines for the first time, industry
sources said last week.
U Aung Kyaw Min, president of the Myanmar International Freight
Forwarders’ Association, predicted a rosy future for traders
due to the likelihood of more frequent voyages, greater competition
and an increased supply of containers.
“It will be easier for exporters and importers, especially
during peak season, because they won’t have to wait for
vessels to be able to load their goods.
Containers will be able to be delivered on time, without delays,”
Transport Minister Major General Thein Swe announced late last
month that Myanmar’s private sector would be allowed to
operate international shipping lines for the first time in order
to increase the country’s trade volume and earn more foreign
High-level businesspeople attending a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw
on June 29 were told by Maj Gen Thein Swe that they should begin
setting up such companies.
State-owned Myanma Five Star Line currently offers Myanmar’s
only international shipping service.
It was founded in 1959, operates 26 vessels and has offices
in 11 countries, but currently only ships from Yangon to Singapore
and two ports in Malaysia.
“We need more foreign-going vessels and containers,”
a senior official with the Myanmar Mercantile Marine Develop-ment
Association told The Myanmar Times on condition of anonymity.
“Every now and then the industry faces a lot of difficulty
when containers can’t be shipped due to a limited number
of foreign-going vessels harboured at Yangon ports.
“Our industry welcomes national entrepreneurs who want
to invest in an international shipping line,” he said.
“At the moment, there is no direct shipping line from
Yangon to China, which is Myanmar’s top trading partner
(excluding natural gas sales to Thailand). So this route will
be attractive to potential investors.”
U Aung Kyaw Min noted that more containers, as well as ships,
Maj-Gen Thein Swe on June 29 also called for increased private
investment in Myanmar ports, which were already open to the private
“There are many ports that could be upgraded to handle
international foreign vessels and cruises,” an assistant
director at the Myanmar Port Authority told The Myanmar Times.
He said ports at Thaketa township in Yangon, Mawlamyine in Mon
State, Dewai in Tanintharyi Division, and Sittwe and Kyaukphyu
in Rakhine State all held good potential for development, which
could attract international cargo and cruise ships.
Private Myanmar firm Asia World Co., Ltd is set to build a deepsea
port at Kyaukphyu on Maday Island, which will serve as a transit
point for goods destined for ports in Yangon, Kolkata in India
and Chittagong in Bangladesh. The company has already finished
surveying the site.