Arakan State Plans to Complete Border Trade Zone

By Moe Myint 17 February 2017

RANGOON — The Arakan State government has earmarked 1.5 billion kyats (US$1.1 million) of its 2017-18 fiscal year budget to complete construction of the Kanyin Chaung border trade zone in the outskirts of Maungdaw Township, according to a regional minister.

The cost of the full project—to include warehouses, trade showrooms, government offices, and transportation between Kanyin Chaung and downtown Maungdaw—could ultimately total about 2 billion kyats ($1.5 million), said U Kyaw Aye Thein, the regional minister for finance, taxation, planning and economics.

To provide the needed funds, the Arakan State cabinet will make adjustments to the state’s budget allocation before the 2017-18 fiscal year begins on April 1, said U Kyaw Aye Thein.

The Kanyin Chaung project has been under construction for several years. A government administration building, trade showrooms, and two boat jetties have already been built. But the compound and traffic road have not yet been constructed.

Local businesses are ready to move into the Kanyin Chaung border trade zone, but they are waiting for the project to be completed, according to commerce ministry official U Kyaw Khin Myint.

In 2016, the government spent 600 million kyats ($441,000) on jetties and the administration office. Maungdaw merchants contributed 400 million kyats ($294,000) to build showrooms, U Kyaw Khin Myint told The Irrawaddy.

Minister U Kyaw Aye Thein said the finalized budget will be announced in April, and the state government will then invite interested developers on an open tender system. Once the finances are worked out, full-time construction is expected to resume in late May.

Vice President U Myint Swe met with Maungdaw businessmen on Thursday and discussed how the Kanyin Chaung project would be completed before the end of 2017, according to U Aung Thein, a Maungdaw Border Trade Chamber of Commerce member.

During the 2015-16 fiscal year, the Ministry of Commerce reported that $5.44 million worth of imports and exports passed through the Maungdaw border trading post. Border trade has been lower during the current fiscal year—totaling $4.7 million through January—as a consequence of the Oct. 9 attacks on border posts and the security operations in the area which followed.

In those attacks, Muslim militants hit three border outposts in Maungdaw Township, killing nine police officers, and looting firearms. The Burma Army implemented a lockdown on the region, and border trade was temporarily halted.

Trade resumed on Dec. 24 after the region was said to be stabilized.

“The situation of Maungdaw is stabilizing now, and the Muslims from the northern part of Maungdaw regularly travel to the downtown area in their cars,” said commerce official U Khin Kyaw Myint.