Sunday, August 20, 2017

Crude oil, diamond and gold exports to be legalised next year: official

The government will lift restrictions on exporting crude oil, diamonds and gold early next year, an official told The Myanmar Times yesterday, cutting the state list of restricted goods down to just four.

Earlier this year, the government took five items off the list: niger seed and oil, mustard seed and oil, sunflower seed and oil, oil cakes, and shrimp bran, which is used as animal feed.

Still on the list along with gold, diamonds and crude oil are cow, horse, buffalo, elephant and other rare animals; weapons; antiquities; and ivory.

Restrictions will be lifted on gold, diamonds and crude after discussions with relevant government departments and businesspeople, said U Khin Maung Lwin, assistant secretary at the Ministry of Commerce.

These include the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, Myanmar Gold Entrepreneurs Association, Myanmar Federation of Mining Association, Myanmar Gems and Jewellery Entrepreneurs Association, the Central Bank and the customs department.

“The ministry will have to allow imports along with granting permits for export. If a company is allowed to import gold from abroad, it should be allowed to export jewellery too,” he said.

“We have to settle a lot of issues, because local gold mining companies want to export raw gold.”

He believes companies will be allowed to import and export blocks of gold, and to export gold jewellery.

For now, gold and diamonds both cross the country’s borders illegally, traders said. Industry bodies asked the commerce ministry earlier this year to strike the precious metal from its list of restricted goods, saying this would boost government coffers and help to combat smuggling.

Smugglers now take advantage of a tax-free environment, pocketing all the proceeds at the expense of Myanmar livelihoods and the wealth of the country, said a senior official at the Myanmar Gold Trading Association previously said.

The commerce ministry is also negotiating with the Ministry of Electricity and Energy over the export of crude oil, and should finish discussions early next year, U Khin Maung Lwin said.

The Ministry of Commerce is aiming for a minimum of $11.1 billion in exports for the 2016-17 financial year, and wants to see this increase three-fold by the end of its five-year plan, which started this year.

Translation by Thiri Min Htun