Myanmar losing $16m a day in China trade due to coronavirus – commerce ministry

Myanmar is losing the equivalent of $16 million a day in border trade with China because of the coronavirus outbreak, a senior official from the commerce ministry has said. 

Exports to China dropped by $160m between January 27 and February 5 at border trade areas in Shan and Kachin states, commerce secretary Khin Maung Lwin told Myanmar Now. 

Trade has dried up because buyers inside China are unable to reach the border due to travel restrictions aimed at curbing the virus, said Dr Thet Lwin Oo, Director of the Myanmar International Trade Center.

Meanwhile Myanmar traders are having their Chinese visas denied, said Sein Win Hlaing, chairman of the Myanmar Rice Producers Association.

Trade at the border is worth over $490 million a month, government figures show. 

Between October and January, China imported $1.4 billion worth of goods from Myanmar and exported $680 million worth.

Khin Maung Lwin said that as there were now no buyers on the Chinese side, the ministry is looking for new export markets.

“We are linking up with some fruit associations and marketing to Singapore,” he said. “For the cows and bulls, we are working with Laos.”

However, he said such measures could only help so much as it was “difficult” to export to those countries on the same scale. 

If the coronavirus crisis continues for several months it could have serious consequences for trade, he warned. 

About 500 truckloads of cargo are stranded in Muse at the 105 miles of trade center. 

But Chinese buyers are expected to return by February 10, said Sai Khin Maung, secretary of the Muse Trading Association.

“Basically, trade is expected to resume on February 10,” he said. 

Fish traders dependent on the Chinese market are among those suffer, said Ko Tun Lin Soe of Crab Market Association. 

Myanmar regularly sends over 40 tons of sea crab and 50 tons of fish per day to China, he added. 

The coronavirus outbreak has also affected the rice market and plans for a bilateral rice trade agreement have been delayed, said Sein Win Hlaing.

Translated to English by Mratt Kyaw Thu

Editing by Joshua Carroll 

Related Articles

Back to top button