Despite the generalised system of preferences given by the European Union, Myanmar exports have not matched expectations after the last fiscal year – lack of familiarity with markets and poor export quality are the main problems, the Commerce Ministry has said.
Dr Maung Aung, an adviser at the ministry, said: “We previously expected US$100 million worth in exports. But in reality, merely half of that amount was exported last year. After studies, it was found that most local business owners didn’t know the market demand there. For example, jade merchants failed to create designs that meet the market taste”. Likewise, the quality of some products was too low to compete in foreign markets.
Myanmar also has access to major foreign markets. In the last fiscal year, peas and beans, fisheries, rice and a small amount of wood and garments were exported to Europe. Currently, Russia also grants GSP on rice, foodstuffs and industrial finished products. Any foreign investor can enjoy GSP privileges if they utilise the resources of Myanmar – including workers – in their businesses. An official at the ministry said “The main point is to use manpower and resources of Myanmar in production for at least 25 per cent to get benefits under the GSP preferential country of origin. This attracts international tycoons to come and operate businesses in Myanmar.”
Last fiscal year, total national trade value hit $24.9 billion. And this year the figure could top $30 billion, as trade has reached $13 billion so far, which is $2 billion more than the same period last year.