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Impact of Myanmar-Bangladesh’s growing trade and business ties in 2022

By Samina Akhter* 
According to reports of pro-government media outlet of Myanmar, Global New light of Myanmar, Myanmar’s export has been surpassing imports in the cross-border trade with Bangladesh and 8,620.7 tonnes of exports to Bangladesh was estimated at US$10.733 million between April and October in the 2022-2023 financial year.
Myanmar’s fishery export accounted for 65 per cent and dried groceries constituted 35 per cent in Myanmar’s two border posts with Bangladesh; Sittway and Maungtaw border posts. The fishery products include farmed rohu, hilsa, mackerel, dried anchovy and dried fish powder. Tamarind, onion, ginger, dried jujube powder, jaggery, longyi and clothes are also exported.
The values of fishery products to Bangladesh via two border posts stood at $6.318 million (7,093.413 tonnes) in the 2019-2020FY, $4.76 million (5,010.7 tonnes) in the 2020-2021FY and $13.987 million (11,362.97 tonnes) in the 2021-2022 six-month mini-budget period (October-March).
“Bangladesh increasingly purchases locally farmed rohu. Myanmar’s border trade with Bangladesh sees a trade surplus. The import is extremely less. The traders called for a legitimate trade of cattle as well. There are many steps to do if that normal trade can generate revenue for the two countries and curb inflation in border areas. Myanmar’s border export with Bangladesh amounted to $10.733 million in the past seven months this FY. The surplus of trade can increase the interest of the entrepreneurs, fish farmers and growers,” U Thet Oo, head of the Rakhine State Fisheries Department, said.
The Maungtaw border post in Rakhine State has been suspended since the end of September. The export is flowing out of the Sittway border post to Bangladesh. Trade via the Maungtaw border saves time and trade flow is smooth. It takes about five hours to reach the Bangladesh border through Sittway.
Myanmar bagged a total of $10.733 million from exports of 8,620 tonnes to Bangladesh in the past seven months. The State also received revenue of $24,100 from licence fees of 26 vessels plying to Bangladesh’s Port.
Myanmar exported goods worth US$2.11 million to Bangladesh through the Shwemingan border post of Sittway and the Kanyinchaung border post of Maungtaw in September.
Myanmar shipped goods worth $1.88 million to Bangladesh through the Sittway border post and goods valued at $0.23 million via Maungtaw.
As transport to Maungtaw was suspended, trade via Maungtaw decreased. Approximately 1,129 tonnes of fisheries products worth $1.42 million were exported via the Sittway border post, which accounts for 75 per cent of overall exports to Bangladesh in September.
The Rakhine State Chambers of Commerce and Industry stated that weather conditions and transport difficulties damaged the trade at the Maungtaw border post. The traders cannot deliver the goods to Maungtaw through Sittway amid the transport barriers and erratic weather conditions so the trade volume via Sittway significantly increased.
The cross-border trade between Myanmar and Bangladesh saw only exports, showing a total trade surplus. The fisheries products are the major export items in the trade.
Myanmar sent areca nut, coconut, jengkol, silver pomfret, anchovy, dried fish, broom, mushroom, ginger, onion, chickpea, dried plum, tamarind seed, footwear, lower garment (longyi), Thanaka, instant coffee mix, sunflower seed and instant noodle to Bangladesh. Meanwhile, apparel, consumer goods, PVC pipes, plastic water storage tanks and hand-drawn pumps are imported into the country.
Myanmar started the exportation of 21,300 tonnes of high-grade rice to Bangladesh by MV VTC Ocean, which docked at Sule Port of Yangon under the agreement of the two countries.
The Myanmar Rice Federation and Bangladesh Food Department inked a contract to export 250,000 tonnes of high-grade rice this year, and the export cargoes will be carried by MV VTC Ocean according to the implementation of the contract.
Myanmar conveyed 5,160 tonnes of rohu to Bangladesh through two cross-border posts in the first five months (April-August) of the current financial year 2022-2023, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
However, the border trade has come to a halt since September amid transport security concerns, according to the Maungtaw border post.
Rohu is processed in Yangon and they are sent to the Sittway border post by cold-storage trucks or ships after pre-shipment inspection. Then, they are shipped to Bangladesh by motorboats. Myanmar has begun exporting rohu to Bangladesh through Sittway and Maungtaw border posts since 2016.
Agriculture and livestock are the backbones of Myanmar’s economy. Commercial fish farming businesses are found in some townships in Yangon, Bago and Ayeyawady regions. Two-year-old rohu grows two to five kilogrammes at the farming ponds. Those rohu weighing below two kg are sent to domestic markets. The large ones are exported to external markets. As rohu has grasped market shares in the international markets, farmers have expanded rohu farming more than before.
Approximately 1,000 tonnes of rohu from Yangon city are delivered to Sittway and Maungtaw border posts in Rakhine State with Bangladesh. Rohu from the other two cities is also sent to the border via sea route and road transport.
Rohu and other dried commodities such as onion, tamarind, ginger, and dried plum are shipped to Bangladesh through Rakhine State, while wide striped longyi for men (Palaykat Pasoe – cotton sarong for men), plastic gallon containers, footwear and construction materials are imported to Myanmar. Exports surpass imports in cross-border trade between Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The value of border trade between Myanmar and Bangladesh amounted to $16.229 million in the first half of the current FY, comprising exports worth $16 million and imports worth $0.03 million, as per the statistics released by the Ministry of Commerce.
Myanmar delivered 319 tonnes of coconuts to Bangladesh through the Maungtaw border trade post in the first half of the current financial year 2022-2023, with an estimated value of US$0.128 million.
It is commonly used in religious events beyond health benefits. That being so, there is a steady demand from Bangladesh for Myanmar’s coconut. Coconut is one of the export items to Bangladesh through Bangladesh.
There are three types of coconuts cultivated in the southern Rakhine State, delta and coastal regions of Myanmar; tall, dwarf and orange coconut. They can be grown at least 27 °C and under rainfall ranging from 30 to 70 inches. It yields between seven and ten years for tall coconuts, while coconuts can be harvested within three to five years for dwarf coconut trees and orange coconuts produce fruits within five to seven years. A tree can produce about 100 coconuts on average.
Coconut’s health benefits are quick digestion, good cholesterol level, anti-ageing, rich in copper and iron, killing bacteria and viruses, hormone balancing, nutritional facts, better memory, bone health and metabolism. The coconut water content is around 200-1,000 ml in one coconut. Coconut water boosts the immune system and has other benefits. It is widely used in making traditional snacks. The coconuts produced from Yangon Region and Manaung, Kyaukpyu and Thandwe in Rakhine State are sent to Bangladesh through the Maungtaw border trade post.
Additionally, Myanmar has been exporting coconuts to Thailand through a legitimate trade channel since 2015.
Myanmar delivered 319 tonnes of coconuts to Bangladesh through the Maungtaw border trade post in the first half of the current financial year 2022-2023, with an estimated value of US$0.128 million.
It is commonly used in religious events beyond health benefits. That being so, there is a steady demand from Bangladesh for Myanmar’s coconut. Coconut is one of the export items to Bangladesh through Bangladesh.
There are three types of coconuts cultivated in the southern Rakhine State, delta and coastal regions of Myanmar; tall, dwarf and orange coconut. They can be grown at least 27 °C and under rainfall ranging from 30 to 70 inches. It yields between seven and ten years for tall coconuts, while coconuts can be harvested within three to five years for dwarf coconut trees and orange coconuts produce fruits within five to seven years. A tree can produce about 100 coconuts on average.
Coconut’s health benefits are quick digestion, good cholesterol level, anti-ageing, rich in copper and iron, killing bacteria and viruses, hormone balancing, nutritional facts, better memory, bone health and metabolism. The coconut water content is around 200-1,000 ml in one coconut. Coconut water boosts the immune system and has other benefits. It is widely used in making traditional snacks. The coconuts produced from Yangon Region and Manaung, Kyaukpyu and Thandwe in Rakhine State are sent to Bangladesh through the Maungtaw border trade post.
Additionally, Myanmar has been exporting coconuts to Thailand through a legitimate trade channel since 2015.
---
*Dhaka-based author and columnist

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