$400m slump hits Muse as blockade disrupts Tamu-Moreh crossing

The value of trade with China through Muse has plunged by more than US$400 million so far this fiscal year, in a possible indication of the disruption caused by the Northern Alliance attacks in November, state-controlled media reported last week.

The value of trade through Muse from April 1 to December 23 was $3.482 billion, and total border trade with China was $4.091 billion, down from $4.265 billion over the same period the previous year, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported on January 5.

The report did not give reasons for the decline or name the source of the figures.

It said border trade with China through Kengtung, had fallen by nearly $7.2 million for the period, to $3.596 million, in another possible indication of disruption caused by conflict.

Border trade with China is also conducted through Lweje, Chin Shwe Haw and Kanpiketee, which for the period was valued at $123 million, $415 million, and $66 million, respectively, the report said.

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The total value of all border trade to December 23 was $5.088 billion, down $15.3 million on the same period the previous year, the report said.

Meanwhile, an economic blockade by Naga activists in northeastern India has seriously disrupted border trade through Tamu in Sagaing Region, a meeting of Myanmar and Indian businesspeople was told on January 8, reports said.

“Hardly 25 percent of the bilateral trade is being carried out at present,” Myanmar-India Border Trade Chamber of Commerce president U Hla Maung was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting in Guwahati, Assam, attended by 50-member delegations from India and Myanmar to discuss ways of promoting border trade.

The blockade was imposed on November 1 by the United Naga Council, the main Naga organisation in northeastern India, in protest at government plans to create new districts in Manipur. The situation had been aggravated by counter blockades organised by the state’s ethnic Meitei majority, the Times of India said.

Most border trade between Myanmar and India is conducted through the crossing linking Tamu with Moreh in Manipur.

Trade through the Moreh-Tamu crossing was estimated to be worth about INR300 million (about K6 billion, or US$4.4 million), up from about INR100 million a decade ago, the newspaper said. It quoted officials as saying that the value of illegal border trade exceeded that of legal trade by several times.

Exports to Myanmar accounted for about 38 percent of the border trade with India, the report said.

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