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                                                                                                                           Asean Affairs August 5, 2013  


Flood halts Thai-Myanmar border trade

Written by Htin Lin Aung , Dawei Watch

The heaviest flood in two decades halted daily Thai-Myanmar border trade Myawaddy Township in Kayin (Karen) State. The suspension is likely to last two weeks, said Zaw Win, treasurer of Myawaddy Goods Transport Association.

The town has been receiving record-high rainfall since July 27. The Hpaan-Kyondo-Kawkareik-Myawaddy Road which is one of the main routes of transportation in the Kayin State has also had landslides.

Consequently, the cross-border trading has been brought to a halt. Prices of goods that come to Myanmar through Myawaddy from Thailand are expected to go up.

Speaking to Mizzima, Myo Min Aung, the Vice Chairman of the Myanmar Retailers and Wholesalers Association, said that the prices of Thai goods in Yangon would not rise sharply because there are unsold stocks of leftover goods.
 
“Under the circumstances, prices might go up slightly, but the traders have most goods in stock. So, there will be no serious consequences.” he said.

A general store owner in Yangon said that although water level in Myawaddy Township is subsiding, border trade would be suspended for two weeks. Therefore, people are concerned that the prices of goods imported through Myawaddy border trade route would rise even in Yangon.

Zaw Win said “Water levels have started subsiding already and officials have cleared the roads. But the areas around Dawna Mountain Range are not accessible because trees have blocked the roads. The flood has also caused landslides. It will take at least a week to ten days to clear blocked areas and repair roads so that trucks can use the roads.”

Khun Phan Htaw, a personal assistant of the Transportation and Communication Minister of Kayin State said, “There are about 20 areas where landslides have occurred. Some big trees fell down because of heavy rainfall. We hope to finish cleaning up by August 2. We have encountered difficulties in transporting heavy machinery because the roads were flooded. Otherwise, clearing up will be completely relatively soon.”

Likewise, cars plying between Mawlamyaing and Myawaddy have suspended service since July 28. Ye Wei Lwin, a trader from Mawlamyaing Market No.1 said that prices of Thai goods in Mawlamyaing have gone up.

He said, “Generally, prices have increased by about 1000 kyats for each commodity. The market has been sluggish since the price went up. If major roads remain blocked, the price will continue rising.”

Zaw Win added that floods hit not only Myawaddy but also border areas in Thailand. So, cars cannot ply between Thai border and Myawaddy or between Myawaddy and Yangon.

In the Mawlamyaing Market No.1, the price of a packet of instant noodles increased from 4,500 kyat to 4,800 kyat and the price of a packet of Birdy instant coffee mix increased from 61,080 kyat to 62,160 kyat.

It is learnt that suspension of border trade has caused loss of several billions of Thai Baht on the Thai side. But, the Myanmar has not reported losses yet.

Myanmar has already initiated relief operations in affected regions.



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