covering burma and southeast asia
Thursday, November 15, 2018




‘One Stop’ Service for Registering Illegally Imported Vehicles

Vehicies to be imported to Burma sit in a Mae Sot, Thailand, compound.(Photo: YENI/ THE IRRAWADDY)
A special team has been established in Rangoon to operate a “one stop” service for registering, licensing and taxing illegal vehicles, fixing their market value and fining their owners. Customs sources said licenses would be issued only for specific states and regions. Reportedly, border areas will be particularly targeted, with the aim of cutting the number of illegal vehicles there. News of the new arrangement has put a brake on business, according to car sales outlets. Tight restrictions on vehicle imports keep prices high in Burma, where some models can cost hundreds of millions of kyat. The crackdown on illegally imported vehicles in eastern Burma has also caused a sudden rise in the cost of imported goods, especially foodstuffs, on both sides of the Thai-Burmese border, because many traders who normally use illegally imported cars have been unwilling to risk fines or having their car impounded.

Burma’s Rice Exports Slump

Burmese rice exports slumped in the first six months of this year to barely more than one-third of the volume shipped in the first half of 2009. The sharp drop comes after the regime announced plans to dramatically boost exports via a newly created Myanmar Rice Industry Association. The Bangladesh government, however, is to buy about US $30 million worth of rice from Vietnam in a deal which spurns imports from neighboring Burma. A study by one of Burma’s leading economic watchers, Sean Turnell, says that more than 80 percent of Burmese export rice is low-quality, low-priced broken rice which can find customers only in poor African countries.

Burma Has Record Bean, Pulse Sales

Burma earned a record income from exports of beans and pulses for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Though this year’s export quantity is lower than the previous year’s, they earned higher market prices. India has become a big market for Burma’s beans and pulses, importing 72 percent of Burma’s production. In July, trading was halted at the Rangoon bean and pulse market and some traders were interrogated by authorities after prices fluctuated rapidly and wildly due to market manipulation in bean and pulse futures.

Tay Za Enters Cigarette Market

Burma’s Internal Revenue Department issued a new rule decreasing the tax for domestic tobacco and alcohol products, but hiking the duty for imported products, according to business and official sources in Rangoon. The new tax regulation came after Tay Za’s Htoo Group of Companies bought government tobacco factories, including one in Pakokku earlier this year, and began manufacturing a new cigarette brand, Diamond. Junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe, No. 3 Gen Shwe Mann and their family members are believed to have business stakes in the Htoo Group of Companies.

Burma on New China ‘Watch List’ for Resources
China has put Burma on a special “watch list” for potential acquisition of urgently needed natural resources, including coal, gold and copper as well as oil and gas. All China’s land border neighbors are the subject of a resources study with a view to future acquisitions. State-owned Chinese companies venturing abroad are backed by national reserves of more than US $2 trillion.

Burma Authorizes Sale of More Mobile Phones 

An additional 130,000 mobile phones will be offered for sale in Burma by the end of this year, bringing the total number of mobile phones in the country to about 600,000, according to Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT). The phones will be GSM and W-CDMA-type phones, said an MPT engineer, who added that the reason for offering more phones is that the current GSM phones will be upgraded to make overseas calls. Authorities believe that more revenue can be made with people calling abroad. For most Burmese, mobile phones are still out of reach because of the costs and also the unreliability of the mobile phone network in the country.

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