Sunday, August 20, 2017

Myanmar awaits Indian response on bean deal

The fate of a nearly million-tonne bean deal remains uncertain as the Myanmar government awaits a response from India to its proposal to sell the beans at the current market price. The Indian government said it wanted to pay a much lower price.

Bean traders examine samples as they prepare to make a deal. Photo: StaffBean traders examine samples as they prepare to make a deal. Photo: Staff

The deal concerns the India government’s offer to buy 900,000 tonnes of mung beans and green beans. Assistant secretary of the commerce ministry U Khin Maung Lwin told The Myanmar Times yesterday, “We have informed them of our position, but they have not replied yet. Nor have they replied to our invitation to sign agreement between our two governments. We can’t do anything until they respond,” he said.

India, long a major customer for Myanmar beans and pulses, buys mainly from private bean traders. Last year it approached the Myanmar government over a deal for its 2017 purchases.

U Khin Maung Lwin said India wanted to buy mung beans at US$700 a tonne, the lowest price India had ever offered. The Ministry of Commerce had replied saying it could sell mung beans only at the market price, which is so far the last word in the exchange. The Ministry of Commerce’s letter also sets out the conditions on which the deal should proceed, including the variety of beans and related matters.

“We have informed India in the notification letter that we want to sell at the market price,” said U Khin Maung Lwin.

The ministry wrote after negotiations with the Myanmar Pulses, Beans and Sesame Merchants’ Association.

India wants a Letter of Credit system setting payment after delivery, but the Myanmar side prefers pre-payment through bank transfer.

“We’ve been negotiating with the Indian government over the purchase, but we still have many things to resolve, especially the price. The merchants want to sell at the current price,” said U Soe Win Maung, an adviser to the association.

Prices have shrunk since last May, when a tonne of mung beans fetched more than $1490 a tonne on the free on board system – which specifies which part bears the liability for goods damaged during shipment. The price is now down to just over $860 a tonne, and Indian demand is a major factor in the market.

Myanmar exports beans and pulses to more than 50 countries, including Pakistan, the UAE, Malaysia and Vietnam. Last year it exported almost 960,000 tonnes, compared to 860,000 tonnes the year before that, as of December 16, said the commerce ministry.


Translation by Win Thaw Tar and Emoon