Myanmar. Trade volume rises but rice export falls


While maritime trade volumes are up by US$1 billion this year so far compared to the same period last year, exports of commodities like rice, has fallen by 55000 tonnes, U Khin Maung Lwin, assistant secretary of Ministry of Commerce (MOC), told The Myanmar Times.

Maritime trade volumes, up until the third week of July, amounted to US$ 8.4 billion which exceeds last year’s trade volumes by $ 1.2 billion over the same period, according to MOC.

During the period exports amounted to US$3.2 billion while imports totalled US$ 5.1 billion.

According to the data up to July 20, US$109 million was earned from exporting 328,706 tonnes of rice. Last year in the same period, Myanmar earned US$106 million from exporting 383,919 tonnes of rice.

“Earnings from rice exports are up marginally but the volume is down by 55000 tonnes. We need to export more rice to boost earnings,” said U Khin Maung Lwin.

Why are rice exports falling? U Soe Tun, vice chair of Myanmar Rice Federation said “domestic rice prices are rising but world rice prices are falling. As such, exporters do not get much profit. As it becomes harder to export, volumes also decrease. Exporters will suffer losses if they buy rice locally for export purposes.”

Another reason is the weather; as it is rainy season, there are difficulties in exporting. “In maritime exports, some items increased in volume. For rice, the volume decreased. It is mainly due to the weather because it is the rainy season. Rice exports always drops during the rainy season.” U Khin Maung Lwin said.

“The major exports via the maritime route are ready-made garments,” he said.

Up until the third week of July, garment exports generated US$ 1.2 billion, almost double the value compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, US$ 400 million in raw materials and capital goods were imported this year, U Khin Maung Lwin said. “Raw materials are essential in manufacturing, while capital goods like machinery represent investments made to grow other businesses in the country,” he said.


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