CNI News

27 May 2024

Since 2018 the Myanmar -China trade has been tilted in favor of China. In FY 2018-19 the trade imbalance stood at USD 1266.423 Mn. This imbalance has continued till date.

In 2019-20 the difference was USD1309.122 Mn, in 2020-21 it was USD533.519Mn, in 2022-23 the difference stood at 1613.354 Mn USD and in FY  2023-24 was USD1696.455 Mn. (FY 2021-22 being year of Mini Budget).

The export items from Myanmar includes basic materials viz Natural Gas, rubber, Green Mung Bean, Rice, other Agri products, Seeds, ores and Fisheries, while imports include Cotton Fabrics, fertilizers, Industrial goods, Vehicles, Electric Goods, Chemicals and Plastic etc. It also indicates pathetic conditions of Myanmar manufacturing sector where as they import mostly furnished goods.

The data available is only the official figures but real matter of concern is illegal or unaccounted export of Myanmar’s natural wealth to China in the form of precious materials like Gold, Jade and rare earth minerals. Myanmar contains 9% of world’s rare earth minerals, which are not exported officially or utilized to uplift deteriorating Myanmar Economy but are being smuggled to China.

A “Memorandum of Understanding on the “Establishment of the Working Group for the Promotion of Smooth Trade” between Myanmar and China was signed on 18th Jan,2020. The agreement was renewed on 24 Jan, 2024. In order to address the issues of bilateral trade Myanmar sent an official letter to Chinese Embassy on 11th May, 2023, requesting for a meeting of Working Group of Smooth Trade, which has not been responded by Chinese authorities till date.

In order to get access to Chinese markets, Myanmar regularly participates in Trade Expo, seminars etc. In 2022-23 Myanmar duly participated in China-ASEAN Expo, Lashio-Lancang Border Trade Fair, China-South Asia Expo and China Kunming Export-Import Expo.  

Chinese influence in Myanmar Economy is deep rooted to such an extent that has put China in a dictating position wherein all the major actors viz. SAC, EAOs and NLD are following Chinese wishes. Myanmar is helpless and has no alternative to counter trade imbalance with China.