Trade deficit narrows during April-September period
Container trucks prepare to leave a container yard at Kyi Myin Daing township , Yangon. Aung Myin Ye Zaw/The Myanmar Times
Myanmar’s trade volumes totaled US$18 billion between April and September, the interim period between the end of 2017-18 and the new 2018-19 fiscal year, which commenced October 1, according to the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).
Trade increased by $2 billion compared to the same period last year. Exports totaled $8.5 billion during the period, lagging behind imports, which totaled $9.8 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $1.3 billion for the period.
The manufacturing sector, which consists mainly of garment products, contributed to more than half of Myanmar’s exports. Meanwhile, international demand for agriculture and mineral products also helped to shore up export income. However, agricultural export volumes were lower this year compared to the same period last year.
Imports, meanwhile, remained relatively unchanged from last year. Myanmar mainly imports capital goods such as machinery and equipment as well as goods like petrol and medicines and raw materials such as cooking oil and steel.
As a result, the country’s trade deficit for the period was $500 million less than the previous corresponding period.
U Yan Naing Tun, director general of the Department of Trade said running a trade deficit is necessary as Myanmar is now promoting investment opportunities to draw foreign investors into the country. “Business will need to import the necessary equipment and materials to operate here,” he said.
“On the flipside, more foreign direct investments will bring much needed growth, income and foreign exchange into Myanmar so we should not focus on the trade deficit without considering other areas of the economy,” he said.
Meanwhile, trade volumes could rise further in 2018-19 now that the MOC has permitted active trading of gold and opened up wholesale and retail trading to foreigners.