Regional demand for Myanmar beans offsets Indian restrictions
ALTHOUGH India has imposed import restrictions on mung beans and pigeon peas from Myanmar, China and other neighbouring countries are still purchasing locally produced pulses and beans, resulting in tens of thousands of tonnes being exported weekly, said U Khin Maung Lwin, assistant secretary of the Ministry of Commerce.
“Around 2,500 tonnes to 3,000 tonnes of pigeon peas are still being exported after the Indian restrictions. Mung beans are still exported in tens of thousands of tonnes weekly. On a monthly basis, the amount of bean exports is between 40,000 tonnes to 50,000 tonnes,” he told The Myanmar Times Wednesday. The beans are exported via sea routes to countries such as Pakistan and Nepal.
Notably, demand from China has risen of late. “China does not normally buy mung beans from Myanmar. Now though, it is importing around 100 tonnes weekly,” said U Khin Maung Lwin.
“So although our biggest pulse and beans market, India, has restricted imports, we’re still exporting to other markets,” he added.
As a result, the prices of mung beans and pigeon peas have increased slightly, said U Min Ko Oo, secretary of the Myanmar Pulses, Beans and Sesame Seeds Merchants Association.
The price of mung bean increased from K425,000 in October to K490,000 a tonne currently. Meanwhile, pigeon peas rose from K310,000 to K335,000 a tonne over the same period.
In an attempt to control the pea prices, merchants united to form a committee and launched an investment fund of K50 billion to purchase the pulses. Starting from October, more than 3,800 tonnes of mung beans and about 10,000 tonnes of pigeon peas have been purchased so far, said U Min Ko Oo.
However, there are still an existing oversupply amounting to 70,000 tonnes of pigeon peas and nearly 200,000 tonnes of mung beans stockpiled in warehouses.
Nevertheless, the prices are still a far cry from before. Following India’s import restrictions on local pulses in August, a tonne of pigeon peas fetched up to K650,000, while a tonne of mung beans fetched K800,000 per tonne.
As such, attempts are being made with the Indian government so that sales can be made under a G2G [government-to-government] arrangement.
To facilitate the arrangement, Myanmar has already formed a negotiation group including the private sector and the government and has requested India to form a similar group. “They’ve generally agreed to form this kind of group. But, we’ll have to discuss the details. Negotiations will be carried out until it’s favorable for both sides,” he said.
The arrangements are taking place as India no longer wishes to trade on a contracted basis with the private sector like before. Now, the country wants to sign a bilateral trade agreement with the Myanmar government.