Trade between Myanmar and Thailand Drops Once More Due to Fighting and Restrictions

Due to the ongoing effects of junta restrictions and years of fighting, Myanmar’s border trade with Thailand has further declined. Data from the junta-controlled Commerce Ministry show that border trade was valued US$ 4 billion in the 11 months from April 1 to February 16, down from $4.6 billion in the same period for the fiscal year 2022–2023. The movement of goods has been severely interrupted by junta troops and forces affiliated with the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) fighting often along the Asian Highway to the border-trade town of Myawaddy in Karen State. The collapse, according to dealers, is also a result of the junta’s regular policy changes.


Trade suffered as the dictatorship implemented a number of policies to limit imports and export revenue because it was short on hard currency. Exporters had previously been obliged to convert sixty-five percent of their export revenue into kyat at the official currency rate established by the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM), which was under the supervision of the junta. Later on, this was lowered to 50%. The CBM loosened its regulations for forex conversion in December, stating that dealers may exchange the remaining 65% of their foreign currency income at market rates and just required to convert 35% of it at the official rate. Even though the market rate is higher than 3,600 kyats, dealers can only sell their foreign currency for 3,100–3,200 kyats per dollar.


Additionally, traders bemoan the excessively sluggish approval of import and export licenses by General Mya Tun Oo’s Foreign Exchange Supervisory Committee (FESC). Trade has decreased, according to a border merchant in Myawaddy. Export revenue still needs to be converted using the CBM’s designated exchange rate. We can convert the remaining 65 percent at market rates, but in order to use the proceeds from our exports to fund imports, we still need committee approval. Sometimes they refuse to give us import licenses, even if we are paying for our imports with our own money.The committee operates at a very leisurely pace. Even though they claim to be planning an import reduction campaign, locally produced goods are insufficient to offset imports. Thus, the border trader stated, smuggling has skyrocketed.





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