Burma plans to boost border trade with Bangladesh

Burma plans to set up a wholesale market and hold trade fairs along the Bangladeshi border to increase bilateral trade, said Pwint San, Burma’s deputy commerce minister, yesterday, according to a report of Bangladesh’s The Daily Star .

Teknaf  land port

“Unfortunately there are some communal problems in our area, which is delaying the enhancement of border trade. When the conditions improve our border trade will also increase. It is assured,” he said.

Following the rape and murder of a young Buddhist woman in the Rakhine state — which grazes Bangladesh — in May this year, the communal situation has been tense.

Burma  currently holds wholesale markets and trade fairs in its bordering regions to China and Thailand, which San credits for Burma’s increasing trade with the two nations.

San hopes the planned wholesale markets and trade fairs would have a similar effect with its border trade with Bangladesh.

San is currently leading an 11-member business delegation from Burma to Bangladesh for the sixth two-day Joint Trade Commission (JTC) meeting between the two countries at the capital’s Hotel Purbani. Yesterday was the first day of the meeting.

Bangladesh is being represented by Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed at the meeting.

Ahmed said both the parties will discuss issues pertaining to gas and power, agriculture and fisheries, and direct air flights between Dhaka and Yangon during the meeting.

Following decades of military rule Burma has opened its economy, making it easier for Bangladeshi businessmen to engage in trade with Burma.

Letters of credit with Burma can now be opened directly, when previously it had to be done through a third-party country, especially Singapore.

Last year, both the governments increased the consignment value through border to $50,000 from the previous $30,000.

“At present, there is no restriction of product coverage for border trade with Burma. Still, only 25 commodities are traded, and it is down to lack of promotional activities,” Ahmed said.

KB Ahmed, president of Bangladesh-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, suggested improvement of the infrastructures of Teknaf Land Port.

He also said both the governments should build warehouses along the bordering areas of the respective countries.

At present, the balance of trade between the two countries is heavily in favour of Burma as Bangladesh imports many food items from the neighbouring country.

During the July-April period of fiscal 2011-12, Bangladesh exported goods worth $11.05 million to Burma and imported goods worth $45.10 million, as per data from the commerce ministry.