India’s policy change on pea imports impacts Myanmar

Severe restrictions announced recently by India limiting the amount of pea products from Myanmar has quickly and adversely affected the local pulses market, officials said yesterday.

On Monday, India capped imports of mung beans and green mung beans (pigeon peas) at only 300,000 tons, after the prices of the pulses plummeted due to record production. This was in addition to an earlier decision to import only 200,000 tons of toor whole (pesingone) — Myanmar’s major export — on 5 August, causing an immediate, negative impact on Myanmar’s pulses market.

The restriction will help support prices of the lentils in India, the world’s biggest importer of the pulses, but will put pressure on producers in Myanmar, which relies heavily on exports to India.

According to the Myanmar Pulses, Beans and Sesame Seeds Merchant Association, there were 100,000 tons of toor whole and 300,000 tons of mung beans left in the hands of local merchants due to the Indian government’s decision to restrict Myanmar’s three major pea exports.

“The purchase of regularly exported beans has been stopped, whereas there was no certainty as to whether peas already exported are to be unloaded or not from onboard in India Port”, said U Min Ko Oo, secretary of the MPBSA.

Bean growers in Myanmar grew various kinds of peas for their winter season crop as usual. Two months before harvesting of the toor whole crop, and as mung beans and green mung beans were being planted, India’s unexpected restrictions on pulses imports was announced, officials said.

The Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation are trying to find solutions to grow other crops as a substitution, according to the MPBSA.

The recent policy decision caught Myanmar merchants, producers and commerce officials by surprise.

“The MPBSA submitted the matter on the designated pea import policy of the Indian government. It was asked whether it was officially made or not by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Regarding all the situations, we presented the matter to the President’s office. We were not officially informed. During the official visit of H.E. Mr. Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, to Myanmar, we will submit the matter to him”, said U Khin Maung Lwin, assistant secretary of the Ministry of Commerce.

Myanmar has been exporting peas to India for nearly 30 years, while India exported medicines, sugar and agricultural machinery.

“During the prime minister’s visit, the authorities concerned will urge the PM to purchase Myanmar’s pulses for one year more. It wholly depends upon the PM’s decision whether our urge will be fruitful or not”, said U Min Ko Oo, secretary of the association.

Out of Myanmar’s total exports of various kinds of pulses to India in 2016 amounting to 1 million metric tons, exports of three kinds of peas from Myanmar reached 900,000 metric tons worth Ks1.4 billion in export earnings.

Canada is first in the global pea export market, followed by Australia and Myanmar. Myanmar exports its pulses to India, China, Japan, European countries and ASEAN countries, it is learnt.

“Myanmar accepted India’s exports. Now that they did not accept our exports, there was imbalance in trade between the two countries. It will be tantamount to violation of the trade ethic between the partner countries to have stopped without advance notification, Myanmar export peas being imported by them for nearly 30 years.”

According to the MPBSA, due to the unexpected restriction of Myanmar pea exports, unnecessary price changes may occur. But purchase and sale of pulses are normally operating in Mandalay, officials said. U Soe Win Myint, a merchant from the Soe Win Myint Brokerage Center in Mandalay, said news that monetary fraud is occurring in Mandalay are “only rumours”.

Myanmar pulses exports have occupied India’s pea market for over three decades. Pulse merchants said lessons should be learned from the latest unexpected trade policy changes and suggested a broadening of the market.

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar