The Irrawaddy

China Considers Buying Myanmar Cattle After Export Ban Lifted

YANGON — China has proposed buying about 800,000 cattle annually from Myanmar, said U Yan Naing Tun, director general of the Trade Department at the Ministry of Commerce.

The proposal came from the autonomous prefectures of Xishuangbanna and Dehong in China’s Yunnan Province, he told The Irrawaddy.

“Combined, their demand is for around one million cattle per year, though they won’t buy all from us; they will also buy from their other neighbors,” he said.

“Xishuangbanna has proposed buying about 300,000 cattle and Dehong about 500,000 from us,” he added.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation conducted a census of cattle in February, finding that Myanmar has about 11.5 million cattle. The country therefore has the capacity to export to China, said U Yan Naing Tun.

“We could only cover 57 percent of the land in the cattle census. There are places where we could not count, so the actual number should be higher. Officially, we will be able to export over 700,000 cattle a year excluding domestic consumption, deaths, calves and those used for farming,” he said.

Those wishing to export cattle have to apply for a license at the Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department, which will determine if the herd is suitable for export.

Only with an animal health certificate from the department will the Commerce Ministry issue an export license, said U Yan Naing Tun.

Several foreign companies have proposed investments in Myanmar’s livestock breeding sector, he added.

A cow can fetch anywhere from1.7 million kyats ($1,160) to 2.1 million kyats ($1,430) depending on its size, according to the Commerce Ministry.

“Cattle have been exported illegally for many years. We will be able to export the proposed amount. If some procedures regarding cattle exports are relaxed, then many smugglers will be able to start exporting legally, I believe,” U Kyaw Htin, vice chairman of the Myanmar Livestock Federation, told The Irrawaddy.

The government can also earn more tax if smuggling is reduced, he said.

He also suggested that the government should grant licenses for slaughterhouses so that finished meat products can be exported as a new business model for Myanmar businessmen.

“This will also create job opportunities,” he added.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, over 70,000 cattle have been exported from Myanmar since January.

The government lifted a ban on the export of live cattle in October last year. Exporters are now allowed to ship 100 cattle overseas per batch.

In the first week of August, the Lower House of Parliament voted down a proposal by a lawmaker from Maubin Township, Irrawaddy Region, to impose a ban on the export of live cattle.