Monday, September 25, 2017

Authorities question trade surplus at Htee Khee border gate

Exports rose at the Htee Khee border gate between the Myanmar and Thai crossing in 2016-17 and appear to be exceeding imports in 2017-18, data released by border trade office showed.

Authorities have raised doubts over the authenticity of Htee Khee’s trade surplus. Su Phyo Win / The Myanmar TimesAuthorities have raised doubts over the authenticity of Htee Khee’s trade surplus. Su Phyo Win / The Myanmar Times

The Htee Khee border trade office is located some 100 miles from Dawei Township in Tanintharyi. It opened in 2013 to oversee trade between Myanmar and Thailand.

In 2016-17, Myanmar exports rose 35.5 per cent to US$8.2 million, while imports dropped 30.2 pc to US$38.3 million, the data revealed. For the first quarter of the 2017-18 fiscal year, exports amounted to US$460,000 while imports were down to just US$20,000.

In comparison, there were no export activities at Htee Khee before 2014-15, while imports for that year were as high as US$54.9 million.

The authorities have raised doubts over the authenticity of the data provided. U Kyaw Kyaw Oo, Secretary of Tanintharyi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the data released by the border trade office may not reflect actual trade volumes between the two countries.

Myanmar’s major export items are coal, tin, fish and squid while imports include diesel oil, mixed liquefied petroleum gas and machines and spare parts, said U Aung Win Khaing, assistant director at the department of trade in Htee Khee border trade office.

“We permit 152 items of export and 166 items of import. The export or import of alcohol, beer and cigarettes is not allowed. But there are five illegal trade routes along the Dawei- Htee Khee road. The actual trade volume maybe much more than the data from the border trade office,” he said.

The Htee Khee border gate also facilitates vehicle imports by Thai infrastructure and equipment company Italian-Thai Development (ITD).

ITD is also developing Phase 1 of the Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ). It first started importing vehicles for the development of Dawei SEZ in 2011.

“It is not possible for the exports to exceed the imports. There are many Thai goods in the Dawei market, including restricted items like frozen meat, vegetables and fruits which even pass to Mawlamyine and Ye markets in Mon State via Dawei,” U Kyaw Kyaw Oo said.

The regional government needs to strictly supervise illegal trade as the illegal market is very big in this area, U Kyaw Kyaw Oo said. “The restricted items are passing through many illegal gates along the route. We need to enforce the laws and rules to protect the market against illegal trade,” he said.