Myanmar traders lament tough border trade with China

Myanmar border traders are still complaining about the difficulties they face in doing business with China despite recent government efforts to facilitate the
process.Only 13 trucks are able to pass through the Myanmar gates through to China to deliver their goods every day.
U Min Thein, deputy chairman of a rice trading center in the border town of Muse in Shan State, said what you used to take three hours before COVID-19 now takes eight days as a result of additional checks and procedures implemented at the border.

“Only 13 drivers each have been allowed to enter and exit at the border gates day since COVID-19 broke out,” U Min Thein said.
“The traffic jam will only be solved if Chinese authorities would allow more cargo trucks to enter the border gates,” he said, adding that the problem has been going on for the past three months.“The Ministry of Commerce is negotiating with China but nothing has changed,” U Min Thein added. “It has been blocked since April 5. It is impossible to go even twice a month, whereas before we had traded three times per month.”

U Min Thein said the traffic police try to help by allowing those carrying perishable agricultural products to jump the queue, but this has not helped much.
As a result, transport charges have declined along the Mandalay-Muse trade route, said Truck Owners Association (Muse) chair U Win Aung Khant.
“Due to slower demand from China, rising wastage and spoilage of goods and the hassle at the border forcing drivers to spend days waiting at the trade gates, there has been a decline in the number of trucks heading up to the border,” he said.
As a result, transport charges for a trip to Muse from Mandalay has halved to K30,000 per tonne. The charter price for a trip to Mandalay from Muse has also declined to K2.5 million for a 22-wheel truck and to K1.5 million for a 12-wheel truck.

U Aung Htoo, deputy minister of Commerce, said that the government is looking for ways to diversify its border trade to make it less dependent on China. He admitted Myanmar has held discussions with China to ease the restrictions, but without success so far.
Just last month, the Ministry of Commerce met with China Ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai to discuss problems with the flow of goods at the border between the two
countries.China needs to inspect all aquaculture and agricultural products as quickly as possible to reduce spoilage and efforts should be made to expand infrastructure such as roads and storage facilities, Minister of Commerce U Than Myint said during the meeting.

Since COVID-19 was detected in Myanmar in March, the Chinese government had banned Myanmar truck drivers from entering China and implemented a system where
Chinese drivers take over the trucks from Myanmar once they cross the border. However, there are times when there are not enough Chinese drivers.
Despite a request to the Chinese government to increase the drivers on their side of the border by an additional 40 or 50, only 13 more have been assigned, said U Min Thein.China is now Myanmar’s top export destination, accounting for 33.3 percent in 2018. Rice, corn, fruit and fisheries are among the country’s export items to China while electronic machines, building materials, fabric, medical products and consumer goods are on the import list.
Other export destinations for Myanmar products are Thailand, 18.3pc; Japan, 8.3pc; India, 3.4pc; Hong Kong, 3.4pc; Germany, 3pc; the United States, 3pc; Singapore, 2.9pc; and South Korea, 2.7pc.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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