Economy and Investment

Trade on the rise along Myanmar's busy borders

by Duangkamol Buranasomphop


            Thailand will remain the second largest trading partner of Myanmar for the foreseeable future as cheaper goods from top-ranked China continue to make inroads into Asean’s last frontier economy.  Trade between Myanmar and Thailand was worth $5.57 billion, about 22% of all international trade worth $24.86 billion, during the fiscal year that ended in March 2014, according to the Ministry of Commerce in Myanmar 

            Myanmar has a huge trade surplus with Thailand because oil and gas account for a large share of its $4.2 billion in exports, while imports from Thailand into Myanmar were worth copy.36 billion.  Overall bilateral trade between Myanmar and Thailand has risen steadily, from $2.9 billion in fiscal 2010-11 to $3.7 billion in 2012-13 and $5.57 billion in the most recent year. 

            The two countries also maintain a vibrant border trade but its share of the total remains low.  Than Aung Kyaw, a director with the Ministry of Commerce said that as long as the people of Myanmar have good relations with China and border trade with China remains high, Thailand will remain in second place. Trade between China and Myanmar in the 2013-14 fiscal years was valued at more than $7 billion, which included $4 billion in imports from China. 

            The main products imported to Myanmar from Thailand were foods, electronic goods, construction materials and home appliances. The major export to Thailand from Myanmar was natural gas. 

            Thai companies in Myanmar have been gradually been increasing their presence since the country began reforming and opening up. Earlier this year PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) Plc said it would invest US$3.3 billion in Myanmar over the next five years to serve the rising demand for energy both in Myanmar and in Thailand.  The company invested copy billion in oil and gas ventures in Myanmar last year, making the country it’s second biggest for oil and gas investment after Thailand. 

            Five countries border Myanmar: China, India, Thailand, Laos and Bangladesh. Total border trade turnover was $4.46 billion during the 2013-14 fiscal years, the ministry said. China accounted for 83% of all border trade value. 

            Myanmar has a total of 14 official border trade posts with its neighbours, including five with Thailand. Myawaddy in Kayin State opposite Mae Sot in Thailand is the biggest with imports worth $240 million in fiscal 2013-14 and exports worth $50 million. The others are Tachilek-Mae Sai, Myawaddy-Mae Sot, Tiki-Sunarong and Kawthoung-Ranong. 

            Among the main trading partners of Myanmar are China, India, Bangladesh, Australia, the UAE, Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, UK, the US and Vietnam.  Myanmar’s major exports are natural gas, rice, beans and pulses, pigeon peas, sesame, corn, rubber, fishery products, teak, hardwood, raw minerals, jade and garments. 



Duangkamol Buranasomphop

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