Myanmar’s new barcode expected to help exporters

Myanmar launched the GS1 Myanmar barcode, an internationally recognised standard that is expected to facilitate exports, at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) last Saturday.

The GS1 barcode system helps businesses find out information about the product quickly and accurately, reduce damage, and control distribution. It is also helps facilitate the storage of goods.

Myanmar’s barcode number is 883, which is different from the barcodes of neighbouring countries.

Most people are familiar with the GS1 barcode, a machine-readable code in the form of numbers and a pattern of parallel lines of varying widths printed on products. However, most people do not know that when scanned with machines at a grocery store or supermarket, barcodes tell where a product comes from.

The GS1 barcode granted to Myanmar will make it easier to export Myanmar products, said UMFCCI president U Zaw Min Win.

“Our exporters used to need the help of barcode organisations in Thailand and Singapore,” he said. “Now we don’t need to rely on other countries because we have our own barcode.”

“The barcode is accepted as a global standard. When it comes to international trade, buyers don’t accept products that don’t include a barcode,” said U Wai Phyo, chair of the Myanmar Barcode Association.

Only one group from each country is allowed to be a member of GS1 and distribute the barcode. The member must be a non-profit civil society organisation.

More than 300 companies use the GS1 Myanmar barcode, he added.

“If people want barcodes on their products, they contact us to buy them. We study the prices of neighbouring countries, and fix the prices for small and medium-sized businesses,” said U Than Htike Lwin, general secretary of the association.

“If a company produces five different juices packed in two different sizes of cans, it needs to buy 10 barcodes, he said. The term of one barcode is one year, and they have to pay to renew it next year,” he added.

The barcode does not refer to the quality of the product but to the country, company and type of product, information that is readily available to anyone scanning the code, U Than Htike Lwin said.

Although there are many types of barcodes, 13-digit barcodes are most common in Myanmar.

The first three digits show the country of origin, the next nine digits show the company that made the product and type of product, and the last digits are called check digits.

Myanmar was the second to last Southeast Asian country to applied for GS1 barcode membership. Only Laos is now without a barcode in ASEAN.

For Myanmar to get a barcode, the Myanmar Barcode Association was set up by the federation, the Myanmar Retailers Association, and the Myanmar Consumer Goods Producers and Exporters Association.

Myanmar’s application for membership in the GS1 organisation was officially confirmed at the GS1 assembly in Istanbul, Turkey, in May 2019.

The GS1 barcode is used by 150 countries, but there are only 114 member organisations because some of them are responsible for more than one country.

The GS1 barcode was invented in 1974, and was internationally recognised in 2015. It is used by more than two million companies.

Source: Myanmar Times

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