Myanmar-Thai border trade set to continue growing this year
Border trade between Thailand and Myanmar is set to increase this year thanks to the second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge and the implementation of Cross Border Transport Facilitation Agreement (CBTA).
The second Thai- Myanmar Friendship bridge connecting Myawady in Myanmar and Mae Sot in Thailand opened in October of 2019.
Meanwhile, the CBTA, which also came into effect last year, authorises goods vehicles from each country to cross the border and stay for 30 days.
Trade volume between Myanmar and Thailand in fiscal year2018-19 hit a total of US$5.4 billion (K7.7 trillion) in total, Ministry of Commerce statistics show. According to the ministry, Myanmar’s exports to Thailand reached US$3.2 billion while imports hit US$2.1 billion.
Among three trade points along the border between Myanmar and Thailand, Myawady-Mae Sot route is the most important, carrying around 70 percent of trade between the countries.
“With the new bridge and that transportation agreement, the trade outlook is good for both countries. In Myanmar, most of goods mainly imported from Thailand are raw materials for manufacturing, and construction material. So, the transportation route is important for two countries’ economies and businesses,” Myanmar International Freight Forwarders Association chair U Aung Khin Myint, told The Myanmar Times.
According to Bankok-based analysts Kasikorn Research Center’s studies, the completion of the second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge and the CBTA will not only cut transport costs and time, but also mark a turning point in linking the manufacturing bases in three countries – Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos.
Under the cross-border transportation agreement, vehicles from Myanmar will stop at Mae Sot for customs inspections and continue to the port city of Laem Chabang, Thailand where goods can be loaded and unloaded. Similarly, Thai vehicles will be able to gain access to the Thilawa Special Economic Zone near Yangon.
Kasikorn Research says its research indicates that the bridge and the agreement will increase border trade between Myanmar and Thailand overall this year, while also, it will facilitate Thai exports through the Mae Sot Checkpoint in Thailand in 2020, increasing exports by 3 to 8 percent.
“It is too early to tell in terms of hard numbers how the new bridge and transport agreement will boost trade between the two countries, but for sure it will save a lot of time. How much transportation costs will be reduced will become clearer in the coming months,” U Aung Khin Myint, said.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce statistics already show that trade through the Myawady-Mae Sot route in the last four months of fiscal year 2019-20 had risen to US$330 million compared with US$260 million in the same period a year ago.
Myanmar’s exports to Thailand were primarily agriculture and livestock products, and imports from Thailand were mainly non-alcoholic beverages, fabric and yarn, motorcycles and related parts, and construction material.
According to Kasikorn Research, Thai products are finding a growing market in Myanmar thanks to positive consumer acceptance. The research company projects that Thai goods such as building materials, packaging, plastics, paper, automotive components, tyres, glass bottles, textiles and fabrics will be able to compete against Chinese products that dominate the Myanmar market.
Thailand is Myanmar’s second-largest trade partner and third-largest foreign investor.