First-quarter trade strong
Foreign trade volumes are up for the first quarter of this financial year and should receive another boost when the government lifts import licence requirements on an array of goods.
MYANMAR’s foreign trade has passed US$6 billion since the new government took office, according to U Yan Naing Tun, director general of the Directorate of Trade, under the Ministry of Commerce.
At a press conference at the commerce ministry on July 1, U Yan Naing Tun said that the foreign trade figure for the first three months of the 201617 fiscal year was up almost $400 million on the same period in 2015-16.
Maritime trade accounted for $4.44 billion of Myanmar’s foreign trade in the first quarter of this financial year, and border trade the other $1.55 billion, according to ministry data.
The country is still importing more than it exports – $1.57 billion of exports against $2.89 billion in imports for maritime trade in the first quarter. Of border trade, $964 million was exports and $595 million imports, the data showed. Total first-quarter exports were $2.53 billion, up $287 million on the same period last year, U Yan Naing Tun said. Imports hit $3.48 billion – up $112 million on the previous year.
Foreign trade could receive another boost when the commerce ministry releases a list of 267 goods that no longer require an import licence, which U Yan Naing Tun said would happen soon.
“Our department has been reviewing what goods to liberalise since April,” he said. The ministry keeps a list of 570 goods that require an import licence, and as part of the 100-day initiative it is planning to remove many of these.
Officials from the ministry of commerce, Customs Department and the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry held discussions last month on which goods to remove, he added.
A detailed list has yet to be published, but U Yan Naing Tun said that certain types of vehicles, machines and spare parts would be among those freed from import permits.
Export restrictions are also on the way, he added.
“Exporting Niger seed oil; mustard seed and oil; sunflower seed and oil and oil-cakes was previously prohibited,” he said. “But we will [soon] allow export if there is a market and they are locally produced.”
The Ministry of Commerce is aiming for a minimum of $11.1 billion in exports for the 2016-17 financial year, and wants to see this increase three-fold by the end of its five-year plan, which started this year.