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MYANMAR
Trade
July 13, 2007

Entrepreneurs allowed open foreign accounts
Myanmar will allow private businesses to open account at banks in foreign countries through legal channels to encourage engagement in foreign trade, the local Myanmar Times reported July 13.

The green light was given at a recent meeting between the Ministry of Finance and Revenue and domestic businessmen in Nay Pyi Taw.

Since the adoption of a market-oriented economic system in 1989, private businesses have been allowed to freely engage in foreign trade and make investment as well as to open foreign currency accounts in state-owned foreign exchange banks such as the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) and the Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB) for the undertakings, the report noted.

The MFTB generally and mainly handles foreign currency transactions along with some private banks authorized for such transactions, while the MICB deals with foreign investment in the country.

Meanwhile, Myanmar has sought for transforming a public bank into an export-import bank to facilitate exporters and importers in the country in carrying out their international trading activities.

The public bank, which is being sought for such transformation, is the Myanmar Citizen Bank, in which the Ministry of Commerce holds a stake of 55%.

There are 15 private banks in the country at present.

There has also been Myanmar Livestock Breeding and Fishery Development Bank, Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank and Myanmar Industrial Development Bank for respective entrepreneurs, but there has been no bank yet for traders engaged in international trading business.

The Myanmar commerce authorities have urged over 10,000 registered private trading companies in the country to function fully to boost foreign trade.

Myanmar's foreign trade hit nearly US$8 billion in the fiscal year 2006-07 which ended in March, a new record high in 18 years since 1989, according to figures of the Ministry of Commerce.

Of the foreign trade during the year, which was up 42.9% from US$5.54 billion in 2005-06, exports took US$5 billion, up 40% from US$3.554 billion in the previous year, while imports accounted for US$2.92 billion, a rise of 47.5% from US$1.979 billion correspondingly.

A trade surplus of US$2.08 billion was registered for the year which is a continuation of the status from the previous year which stood at US$ billion. PNA/Xinhua

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