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September 20, 2018

Boost agricultural exports to balance with imports

  • Foreign trade hit a record before the end of the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year, exceeding US$30 billion.
    Myanmar’s trade volume for fiscal year 2017-2018 (from April 2017 to March 2018) was over $30 billion – over $13 billion worth of exports and over $17 billion worth of imports. According to the official list, the country could export $2 billion more and import another $2 billion more this fiscal year.
    The country exported $2.8 billion worth of agricultural goods this year. As of 2 March, the country exported over $3 billion worth of natural gas. Garment exports stood in second place with a value of US$2.33 billion. Oil and natural gas dominate Myanmar’s exports. Other exports include vegetables, wood, fish, clothing, rubber and fruits. Myanmar’s main export partners are China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Germany, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
    Other oil products including diesel, petrol and airplane fuel, airplane parts, machines and parts, chemical
    fibers and medicines were imported more this year than the previous year. In fact, these items are essential requirements for the nation, important raw materials of SMEs, and healthcare requirements for the people.
    In the agricultural sector, there remain challenges and difficulties. They include climate, natural disasters, rise in production costs, lack of quality strains, rise in transport costs, weakness in value-added goods, dependence on
    international markets and demand, and lack of modern production methods.
    This is mainly due to low-quality seeds. There are not enough rice seed companies in Myanmar. So, farmers recycle paddies from their farms to plant rice the following year.
    Also, modern processing machinery and technologies are beyond our farmers’ means. There are many
    other obstacles, including lack of storage facilities.
    Attracting investment is high on the government’s list of priorities, but foreign direct investment in agriculture is still low.
    The key problem is that there are still big risks in agriculture, including the lack of a crop insurance system. Investors do not dare make investments in the sector, as the sector cannot guarantee a profit. Myanmar also has logistical problems, including poor infrastructure and lack of electricity in rural areas.
    To improve our agricultural sector, we should not forget the impact of climate change. It is therefore essential to research a new system of agriculture that is based on climate change.

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