Rice exports to resume, says minister

By KO KO AUNG | FRONTIER

YANGON — The government has given the green light for the resumption of rice exports, six weeks after they were suspended following price rises on the domestic market amid concern over shortages caused by widespread flooding.

The decision to resume exports was announced by Commerce Minister U Win Myint at the annual meeting of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Yangon’s National Theatre on September 9.

The decision to resume exports had followed an evaluation of the recovery from flood damage in growing areas, said U Win Myint, who stressed the importance of rice as a strategic crop.

“Rice has been re-planted in some areas and after we calculated the effect of the flooding, we decided to re-open the market to exports,” he said.

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The deputy director of the ministry’s Department of Trade Promotion, U Aung Soe, said the decision to permit the resumption of exports in mid-September had taken into consideration the need to avoid price volatility on the domestic market.

Exports were halted in early August amid concern about domestic shortages leading to increases in the cost of the nation’s most important staple.

The temporary suspension of exports and the impact of the floods would mean that the amount sold abroad this year would be down by more than 400,000 tons on 2014-2015, said Dr Soe Tun, the vice chairman of the Myanmar Rice Federation.

The federation says figures for the fiscal year beginning on April 1 show that more than 400,000 tons had been exported to August and applications have been made for export licences involving 600,000 tons.

Before the flood crisis began, the federation had been expecting exports of nearly two million tons, up from more than 1.7 million tons that Commerce Ministry figures show was exported in 2014-2014.

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