Prioritising essential imports one way to better manage trade deficit: VP

Traders should exercise more discipline when importing items that are non-essential to the Myanmar economy, as this could help prevent the budget deficit from widening beyond necessary, vice president U Myint Swe said during a meeting at the United Myanmar Federation Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) on August 24.

At a time when inflation is rising and consumers are feeling the pinch of a dearer exchange rate, attempts are being made to promote and raise exports as well as encourage import substitutes and discipline to better manage the trade deficit.

“We need to export more and prioritise imports to goods essential for the country such as medical equipment, building materials and raw materials required for manufacturing. If the rules and regulations prioritising essential imports are followed, we can gradually achieve a better balance in trade,” U Myint Swe said.

U Than Myint, minister of the MOC, said his ministry will focus on export promotion and import substitution to prevent the trade deficit from widening beyond expected.

He added that it is common for Myanmar to run a high trade deficit. “Being a developing nation, there are certain goods and commodities that we cannot avoid importing in large quantities. For example, we cannot reduce our imports of cooking oil, fuel, medicine and raw materials as we cannot produce these domestically. As our economy develops, we will gradually reduce the deficit,” he said during the meeting.

According to the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), trade volumes from April 1 to August 18 totalled US$ 13.7 billion with exports totalling $6.3 billion and imports totalling $7.4 billion during the period, taking the trade deficit to around $1 billion for the period.

In 2017-18, the trade deficit was K4.1 trillion, according to official data. That’s expected to widen to K4.9 trillion, or around 5percent of Myanmar’s GDP, in 2018-19.

Source: Myanmar Times

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