VP calls for ad­vice on trade deficit

The Myanmar Times - - News - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­times.com

AD­VICE needed: how can Myan­mar reduce its US$3 bil­lion trade gap? That was the ques­tion asked by Vice Pres­i­dent U Myint Swe at a con­fer­ence in Nay Pyi Taw yes­ter­day. The vice pres­i­dent had in­vited gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, trad­ing part­ner rep­re­sen­ta­tives and ex­perts to the Hil­ton Ho­tel to seek their ad­vice on a prob­lem that seems to be get­ting worse.

“I would like to ask your ad­vice on ap­pro­pri­ate meth­ods to solve Myan­mar’s trade deficit, which has been ris­ing year on year,” he told par­tic­i­pants, urg­ing their co­op­er­a­tion.

The call is seen as par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant as global growth fal­ters and Myan­mar is still far from be­ing in­te­grated in the world econ­omy. The World Bank’s ini­tial fore­cast put global eco­nomic growth at 2.9 per­cent, but re­vised it to 2.4pc. Emerg­ing mar­kets and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries like Myan­mar face a slow­down in eco­nomic growth as well as weak­nesses in trad­ing. “It’s im­por­tant for Myan­mar to pro­mote rapid global in­te­gra­tion. Es­pe­cially in the trade sec­tor, we need to in­te­grate ur­gently,” said U Myint Swe.

Myan­mar’s econ­omy re­lies heav­ily on the ex­port of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, which are con­sid­ered to be of low qual­ity. Agri­cul­tural ex­perts say Myan­mar’s crops con­tain chem­i­cal residues, a bar­rier to ex­pand­ing ex­port mar­kets.

At the same time, oil and nat­u­ral gas prices have fallen, drag­ging ex­port earn­ings down fur­ther.

The Min­istry of Com­merce has drafted a com­pre­hen­sive re­view re­port on trade, in co­op­er­a­tion with the World Bank, and has also drawn up a medium-term plan based on con­sul­ta­tions with trad­ing part­ners.

The 2016-17 Union Bud­get Law fore­cast ex­ports at more than US$14 bil­lion and im­ports at more than $17 bil­lion. – Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe

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