Trade Deficit Reaches US$1.73 Billion in Govt’s First Six Months

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 7 October 2016

RANGOON — Burma’s trade deficit has reached US$1.73 billion in the National League for Democracy government’s first six months, beginning in April, significantly lower than the $2.24 billion deficit reached over the same six-month period last year.

From April till the end of September this year, Burma’s total trade volume amounted to US$12.9 billion, with exports worth $5.6 billion and imports $7.3 billion, according to figures from the Ministry of Commerce.

This puts exports $11.9 million higher than the same period last year, but imports $495 million lower, signaling an overall decline in the total volume of trade.

“Exports of oil and gas, and of gems, are significantly down this year,” U Yan Naing Tun, director-general of Ministry of Commerce, told the Irrawaddy. However, he said that increases in agricultural exports had helped make up some of the shortfall.

The director-general attributed the decline in imports to a relative slowdown in construction and infrastructure development during the period.

Burma’s major exports are oil, gas, gems, marine products, and agricultural products including rice, beans, pulses and rubber. Its major exports include electronics and materials used in construction.

The Ministry of Commerce anticipates a total trade volume of $32 billion through the current fiscal year ending on March 31, 2017. The total trade volume for the previous fiscal year reached $26 billion.

Burma’s trade volume increased steadily year on year after political and economic reforms were launched under former President U Thein Sein in 2011. However, in 2015, the last year of U Thein Sein’s term, the trade volume appeared to be leveling off.