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Talks held with China in bid to bolster border trade

Myitmakha News Agency

Yangon, September 14 – talks are currently being held with the Chinese government for the opening of more border trade posts, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce has told Myitmakha News Agency.

The establishment of more border trade posts, together with legalizing the importation of Myanmar’s agricultural products into China, are reportedly the primary topics on the table for discussion.

“The talks are primarily focused on the issue of rice and maize from Myanmar being exported legally but not recognized as such once they arrive in China,” said U Khin Maung Lwin, assistance secretary of the Ministry of Commerce.

The Chinese government has reportedly requested the Myanmar Ministry of Commerce to relocate the Chinshwehaw border trading post, which facilitates trade from Shan State, due to the opening of the Yinchuan Central Economic Zone on the Chinese side of the border.

“The trade zone in Yinchuan has been opened through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As such, official talks are being held over the desire of the Chinese government for the Chinshwehaw trading post to be relocated,” added U Khin Maung Lwin. “That said, we’re still not sure whether trading post will end up being relocated or not as we find ourselves in a situation whereby trade can be augmented without its relocation.”

The crux of the problem, according to traders however, stems from conflicting statuses of legality over agricultural products such as rice and sugar between the government of both countries: the Myanmar Ministry of Commerce regards the goods as legal for export, upon which they are sent to China. The Chinese government, however, defines them as illegal goods, confiscating them once they arrive across the border.

“While I welcome an increase in the number of border trade posts, in that it will have better prospects for trade, volumes of trade won’t just grow from that alone. The Chinese are confiscating rice, maize and sugar exported to the country from Myanmar. These activities need to be abated. Primarily, the importation of rice into China needs to be legalized. Next, the [Myanmar] government needs to request a reduction in the rate of duty on such exported goods,” Dr Soe Htun, deputy chair of the Myanmar Rice Federation.

Among the four China – Myanmar border trade posts of Chinshwehaw, Kanpaikti, Lwejel and Muse, the majority of agricultural products, such as rice and sugar, are traded through the Muse border trade post with connects with the Chinese town of Shweli.

According to records of the Ministry of Commerce, over US$1.9 billion of goods were traded from Myanmar to China between April – August of the current 2016-17 fiscal year.

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