New Myanmar-China economic zone in the works
Negotiations are underway between Myanmar and China for the construction of a Chinese economic zone to promote Myanmar manufacturing and tourism, U Yan Naing Tun, director general of the Department of Trade under the Ministry of Commerce told The Myanmar Times last week.
This comes after the two countries last year signed an MOU to develop the economic zone. “We are now discussing possible locations for the economic zone in China, following which discussions will be held on how and when to implement the project,” he said.
Deputy Minister for Commerce U Aung Htoo in early April led a Myanmar delegation across the border to conduct studies on implementing the economic zone.
As China is Myanmar’s largest border trade partner, the economic zone, when complete, will help substantially in promoting local goods and services as well as create job opportunities for Myanmar citizens.
“Once complete, our people will have opportunities to find work across the border. Goods manufactured in Myanmar can be easily and legally transported to China. Tourists from China will be able to visit Myanmar. The economic zone will benefit both countries,” U Yan Naing Tun said.
The new economic zone will differ from the Muse border trade gate in Myanmar. It will offer a wider scope for bilateral trade cooperation including schemes to invest in factories and mills as well as develop a more robust tourism sector.
Over the longer term, the economic zone is also expected to help raise exports across the border, helping to reduce the country’s yawning trade deficit.
In 2017-18, Myanmar registered a trade deficit of $3.8 billion. During the year, the total volume of foreign trade amounted to $33.3 billion.
Myanmar’s current account deficit (CAD) is now 5 percent of GDP, up from 3.9pc in 2016-17, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). In 2018-19, the ADB expects the CAD to widen further, reaching 5.4pc of GDP.
As such, efforts are being made to develop and expand the country’s export-oriented industries.