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Myanmar strives for development of foreign trade

YANGON, June 1 (Xinhua) - Myanmar has been striving for the
development of foreign trade in recent years, hitting nearly 8 billion
U.S. dollars in the fiscal year 2006-07 which ended in March.

The 7.92 billion dollars' foreign trade volume gained in 2006-07
registered a new record high in 18 years since 1989.

The foreign trade during the year was up 42.9 percent from 5.54
billion dollars in 2005-06, according to the latest figures released
by the Ministry of Commerce.

Of the foreign trade during the year, exports took 5 billion dollars,
up 40 percent from 3.554 billion dollars in the previous year, while
imports accounted for 2.92 billion dollars, a rise of 47.5 percent
from 1.979 billion dollars correspondingly.

A trade surplus of 2.08 billion dollars was produced for the year, a
continuation of the status from the previous year which showed 1.6

The commerce authorities attributed the trade surplus gained in the
last two years mainly to the export of natural gas which continued to
dominate Myanmar's export in 2006-07 with 2.16 billion dollars,
accounting for 43 percent of the total, local reports said.

The gas export was up from 1.079 billion dollars in 2005-06 when it
represented 30 percent of the total.

Other Myanmar main export goods are agricultural, marine and forestry
products, while its key import goods are machinery, crude oil, edible
oil, pharmaceutical products, cement, fertilizer and consumers goods.

Myanmar only enjoyed trade surplus in the past five consecutive years
since 2002-03, before which it suffered a trade deficit for many

Myanmar's foreign trade started to drop gradually to 4.5 billion
dollars in 2003-04 and to 4.9 billion in 2004-05 due to the United
States' economic sanctions against Myanmar in August 2003 which
brought about a fall of export mainly garment to the U.S.

In 2005-06, because of increase of export of natural gas as well as
effective administration of the Trade Council over export price
quotations, Myanmar's foreign trade picked up to 5.54 billion dollars
in 2005-06, according to local reports.

Myanmar trades most with Asian countries and regions sharing 90
percent, followed by European countries (4.8 percent) and American
countries (1.5 percent). Its trade with other members of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations accounts for 51.3 percent of
the total.

Of the Asian nations with which Myanmar traded in 2006-07, Thailand
stood as Myanmar's top trading partner during the year.

With a bilateral trade volume of 2.659 billion dollars between Myanmar
and Thailand in 2006-07, Thailand also stood as Myanmar's largest
exporting country with an export figure of 2.409 billion dollars, said
the Ministry of Commerce.

After Thailand, Myanmar's other main trading partners were lined up as
China with 1.274 billion dollars, Singapore (1.217 billion dollars),
India (895 million dollars) and China's Hong Kong (424 million

In its bilateral trade with Thailand, India and China's Hong Kong,
Myanmar gained a trade surplus especially with Thailand for exporting
natural gas but suffered a trade deficit in bilateral trade with China
and Singapore as it had to import goods for investment and office use
as well as consumers goods which the country mainly needs.

With China representing as Myanmar's main border trade partner, the
two countries' border trade volume was more than the normal trade's.
Of them, Myanmar's export dominated the border trade, while its import
accounted for more in normal trade.

In Myanmar's border trade partners line-up, China (721 million
dollars) was followed by Thailand (248 million dollars), Bangladesh
(25 million dollars) and India (17 million dollars).

Meanwhile, businessmen engaged in border trade in the country are
urged to export on a wider scale more than ten major goods for the
development of normal trade, namely green gram, rubber, fish, prawn,
rice bean, cow pea, white sesame, dried small fish, jelly fish, eel
and mango.

Myanmar has planned four border trade zones where transformation from
border trade system to normal trade one has been or is being carried

Of these zones, the first and the largest is the 105th Mile Muse
Border Trade Zone in Shan state with China and was established in
April last year. The second goes to Myawaddy in southeastern Kayin
state with Thailand, the third Tamu in northwestern Sagaing division
with India and the fourth Maungtaw with Bangladesh.

With phase-by-phase transformation from border trade to normal trade
through measures such as simplification of formalities and prompt
delivery, Myanmar sees a better prospect of boosting its foreign trade
which would contribute to the country's economic development,
observers said.

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