Rangoon Auto Show Yields One Sale

8 May 2014



The four-day car show recently organized in Rangoon by the Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd (UMEHL), a military-run conglomerate, and a Chinese automobile company attracted very little interest and generated just one sale, according to local sources.

Hosted at the Tatmadaw [Armed Forces] Exhibition Hall on Jan. 21-24, the exhibition reportedly included 25 female promoters, dancing performances and music by popular artistes.

The automobiles on exhibition were jointly manufactured by Japan’s Mitsubishi and China’s Tang Fung companies, and have been imported for sale by the China-based RAMMAR Automobile Manufacturing & Trading Co Ltd.

According to a source close to RAMMAR, more than 150 cars were sold during the first exhibition held in June last year, but only one car was sold this time.

“The show, together with the entertainment, was quite extensive and intended to attract many spectators,” a Rangoon-based business writer said. “But sales were much less than expected. I think there were three reasons: some people have yet to receive the cars that they ordered at last year’s show; some customers were given the wrong model of car; and resales have only resulted in losses.”

He said the vehicles at the show came in three price ranges: 55 millions kyat [US$ 66,265], 50 million kyat, and 45 million kyat.

“As per an agreement between the Burmese authorities and Chinese manufacturers, these cars were only manufactured as imports to Burma. In which case, it is unlikely there was any attention paid to quality control,” said a car broker in Rangoon’s Kyaukmyaung Township. “The question is—to what extent have Burmese engineers checked the quality of those automobiles? From what I have seen, I think the manufacturing cost for them was about half of the sale price.”

Business sources in Rangoon said that although not many people were interested in buying cars, the show was crowded with visitors because the prices were cheaper than the first time and the show had the added attraction of so many girls promoting the exhibits.

“The average price [of a vehicle] was about 5 million kyat [$6,024] cheaper than the previous time, but nevertheless only a few people appeared interested in buying,” a businessman said.

Show organizer Ngu Wah said the next exhibition will he held in the Mandalay City Hall in upper Burma on January 28-31.

Normally, Burma’s regime allows only a few thousand cars to be imported each year through the UMEHL and businessmen close to the ruling generals.

Since early last year, the regime’s Ministry of Commerce has deregulated the import of cars and allowed some private-owned companies to import buses and heavy machinery.

Burma’s import restrictions have skewed the prices of cars — both new or used—to prices that would be considered absurd in neighboring countries.

Illegal vehicles are regularly smuggled into Burma across the Thai-Burmese border and the Sino-Burmese border. Smugglers usually bribe border security forces and local authorities to transport the illegal vehicles into the country.