Rice Export Restrictions to be Lifted Mid-October: Commerce Ministry

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 23 September 2015

RANGOON — Burma’s government this week announced a further easing of restrictions on rice exports after a 45-day suspension was conditionally lifted on September 15.

Myint Cho, Director of Trade Promotion in the Ministry of Commerce, told The Irrawaddy this week that from Oct. 15, all rice exports would resume as normal.

Severe flooding across the country from July, which inundated more than 1.3 million acres of paddy fields, led the Myanmar Rice Federation to announce the temporary suspension of rice exports from August 1.

While limited seaborne rice exports resumed on Sept. 15, overland trade of the staple product remained suspended. Other restrictions included the stipulation that exporters retain 2 percent of their potential export volume as surplus.

“We’ll ease all these restrictions for exporters from October 15,” Myint Cho said. “Export rules will then be back to normal.”

The commerce ministry official said the government had been closely monitoring the local trade as some exporters were using the official hiatus period to gain an advantage in the market.

“After discussions, we decided that local consumption was OK, and that’s why we decided to resume exports,” he said, adding that the country would lose out economically if the suspension continued.

Ye Min Aung, general secretary of the Myanmar Rice Federation, told The Irrawaddy last week that he expected a new rice export policy would soon be drafted by the government.

Figures from the Ministry of Commerce put total rice exports at more than 1.7 million tons in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, reaping nearly US$645 million. Exports were shipped to 64 countries including China and Japan, as well as other nations of ASEAN, Europe and Africa.