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The Central Bank of Myanmar released banks will be allowed to open new accounts from May 3,2021 with no restrictions on cash withdrawals

Banks will be allowed to open new accounts and deposit cash from May 3, and the central bank announced on April 27 that it would allow unrestricted cash withdrawals from those accounts, according to a broadcast on Myanmar Radio and Television. 

From May 3, the public will be allowed to open new bank accounts and deposit cash if they wish to deposit their cash in banks for security purposes.

In addition, those who have opened bank accounts before May 3 will continue to be allowed to withdraw cash in accordance with the Central Bank of Myanmar’s original withdrawal restrictions. According to the press release, arrangements are being made to ease these withdrawal restrictions.

Source: Daily Eleven

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Fuel oil price up by 55 per cent in three months

The domestic fuel oil price has now risen above 50 per cent per litre in three months, as the heightened coronavirus restriction and possible lockdown in Asia sparked oil demand concerns, coupled with a strong dollar exchange rate. The fuel oil was pegged at around K590 per litre for Octane 92, K610 for Octane 95, K590 for diesel and K605 for premium diesel in early February 2021 in the domestic retail market. Then, it remarkably rose to K920 for Octane 92, K1,005 for Octane 95, K920 for diesel and K930 for premium diesel on 25 April 2021, according to the local fuel oil market. Domestic oil price is positively related to the global market.

Oil price inched higher in the global market at US$62.14 per barrel for WTI crude and $66.11 for Brent crude on 24 April. Additionally, the foreign exchange rate also affects the petroleum price. The US dollar is gaining against Kyat in the local forex market in April, rising above K1,600 per dollar. In mid-February, a dollar was worth K1,430. Usually, Myanmar imports fuel oil primarily from Singapore, with monthly volumes touching 200,000 tonnes for gasoline and 400,000 tonnes for diesel. There are about 2,000 fuel stations and over 50 oil importer companies in Myanmar, Myanmar Petroleum Trade Association stated. A monthly oil import is estimated at $400 million, yet the oil importers face banking restrictions for maritime trade.

Oil importers via land border can use informal payment Hundi system instead, said an importer. The domestic oil prices have declined from 10 January 2020 owing to a fall in global oil prices. On 8 January 2020, oil prices were pegged at around K905 per litre for Octane 92, K995 for Octane 95, and K985 for diesel and premium diesel. Following the global market crashing, the domestic oil price plunged to more than 50 per cent in April against January’s prices. In late April 2020, the oil prices touched a low of K290-330 per litre for Octane 92, K430-455 for Octane 95, K435-465 for diesel, and K445-475 for premium diesel, according to the domestic oil market.  Ninety per cent of fuel oil in Myanmar is imported, while the remaining 10 per cent is produced locally. In the Q1 of the current financial year2020-2021, about $600 million worth of petroleum products were imported. The figure plunged by half compared to a year-ago period, the Ministry of Commerce stated. 

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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Muse border trade almost hangs down because of COVID-19

MUSE border trade virtually hangs down because of coronavirus outbreak in the border market, said U Min Thein, the vice-chairman of Muse Rice Wholesale Centre. On 29 March, a Myanmar national was found to be COVID-19 positive in Kyauk Wine market in Kyaigaung. The next day, China restricted the border crossing at the Mang Wein checkpoint, which is one of major border crossings between Muse and Kyaigaung. Consequently, the main export stuffs namely rice and broken rice, pulses, aquatic products, onion and chilli to China through Mang Wein checkpoint were 100 per cent suspended.

Although the export items are allowed through other checkpoints Wan Ding and Kyin San Kyawt, the inspection over the products has been tightened starting from 20 April because of pandemic. Currently, the export of such products as rice, broken rice, green gram, aquatic products, onion and chilli are halted 100 per cent at Muse border checkpoint. The watermelon and muskmelon are still exported via Kyin San Kyawt checkpoint. However the trade of watermelon and muskmelon are down 90 per cent than previously because the health checks are more stringent than earlier at Kyin San Kyawt checkpoint.

According to the statement of the People’s Republic of China Yunnan COVID-19 prevention team prevention on 19 April said that any of 30 sample items from an export truck to China were needed to undergo COVID-19 test starting from 20 April. The COVID-19 test on each sample item will cost 60 Yuans. The costs will be borne by the owner of the cargos. The export products will only be allowed to discharge the day after the COVID-19 test proves negative. Besides, the traders and cargo handlers will have to undergo COVID-19 tests daily and the cost is 60 Yuans per person. Likewise, people are allowed to enter the workplace only after having the medical record, checking the body temperature and wearing the masks and gloves. The workers and staff have to stay in the restricted areas from 9 pm to 8 am. Those who are disobedient of the rules will be deported. As a result, some export cargos to China through Muse border trade seem to be suspended 90 per cent while some export items are suspended 100 per cent.

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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Food commodities including instant coffee temporarily banned on Myanmar-Thailand border

MYANMAR’S Trade Department under the Ministry of Commerce has notified that four food commodities are temporarily restricted for import via the Myanmar-Thailand border starting from 1 May, Myawady Trade Zone reported. The restricted items include various beverages, coffee mix and tea mix, instant coffee, and condensed milk and evaporated milk. However, they can be imported through maritime trade. Traders stressed that it would add more extra transport costs. Moreover, it causes price hikes in the retail market at present. The value of Myanmar’s bilateral trade with the neighbouring country Thailand through the land border has registered a decrease of US$370.79 million between 1 October and 2 April of the current financial year 2020- 2021 as against a year-ago period the statistics issued by the Ministry of Commerce indicated. The ministry reported that exports surpassed imports in trade with Thailand this year, with exports reaching over $1.3 billion and imports valued at over $589.7 million, totaling $1.9 billion.

Myawady border performed the best among seven border points between Myanmar and Thailand, having a trade value of $729.46 million. During the corresponding period of the past FY2019-2020, Myanmar-Thailand border trade touched a high of $2.28 billion. During the last FY, Myanmar has increasingly exported corns to Thailand through the Myawady border. Myanmar’s corn exports to Thailand significantly soared to over 1.2 million tonnes through border posts between Myanmar and Thailand during October and May period in the FY2019-2020, said an official of the Ministry of Commerce. At present, Myanmar exports the corn to Thailand through Myawady and Tachilek land border. About 5,000-6,000 tonnes of corn are daily sent to Thailand through Myawady, while Tachilek border does not regularly export. Myanmar is allowed for corn export between 1 February and 31 August with Form-D, under zero tariff.

Thailand imposed 73 per cent of tax on corn import to protect the rights of their growers if the corns are imported during the corn season of Thailand, according to the notification of the World Trade Organization regarding corn import of Thailand, said a corn exporter. Myanmar intends to reach an export target of one million tonnes of corn to Thailand this year, Myanmar Corn Industrial Association stated. Additionally, exports of natural gas from the Taninthayi Region has contributed to the enormous increase in border trade with Thailand in the previous years. This year, gas exports via the Hteekhee border drastically fell. There are seven border posts between Myanmar and Thailand, Tachilek, Myawady, Kawthoung, Htikhee, Myeik, Mawtaung and Meisei. Except for Tachilek and Myawady, the remaining border posts showed a decrease in the trade this FY. Myanmar primarily exports natural gas, fishery products, coal, tin concentrate (SN 71.58 per cent), coconut (fresh and dry), beans, and bamboo shoots to Thailand. It imports capital goods such as machinery, raw industrial goods such as cement and fertilizers, consumer goods such as cosmetics and food products from the neighbouring.

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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The closure of the Chin-Shwe-Haw border has halted the export of Myanmar agricultural product and the import of fertilizers and metal products from China

According to the Chin Shwe Haw Chamber of Commerce, the closure of the Chin-Shwe-Haw border checkpoint, which is a cross-border trade between Burma and China, has halted the export of Myanmar agricultural products and fertilizers and metal products imported from China. The gate was closed on April 16, citing the Chinese side as saying that the virus was found on April 16. The Chin Shwe Haw border gate will be reopened on May 15. It will be closed for a month. They also say that it will shut down again if the virus is found again, depending on the virus. There are more than 400 cars here on the side of Myanmar, and more than 100 cars have entered the Chinese side. This is the export of goods from Myanmar. On the Chinese side, they have more than 300 imported goods coming to Myanmar. 

On the morning of 22nd April,2020, the last 147 cars have been unloaded. About 420 cars on the next road coordinate with traders. The gate is closed for a month, so will the goods be dropped off at Chin Shwe Hall or they negotiate with the traders to return the goods to Muse and Lwe Kyi, some put it down. However, few cars were ordered to return to Muse and Lwa Kyi. Mandalay collapsed again. People are in a lot of trouble. In addition, a trader from Chin Shwe Haw said, it is uncertain whether it will be reopened. So that all people have to endure it and prepare mental strength, manpower and financially.

Pulses from Burma at Chin Shwe Haw border gate sesame, corn dried chillies; agricultural products such as betel nut and sugarcane are being exported. Iron ring Soup powder Etc. are being imported. The items banned by China’s COVID-19 defense force include commercial vehicles and agricultural products, raw vegetables and small local pumpkins, and sugarcane. The Yunnan provincial government has closed the two border checkpoints in Muse due to the COVID-19 disease, and the Yunnan COVID-19 National Guard issued a strict entry and exit rules in a statement issued on April 19. Traders are also worried that the border with China will soon be closed again due to the COVID-19 virus.

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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As a result of the current situation, Myanmar’s manufacturing PMI fell to a record low in March, resulting in a drop in new products, orders and a record number of pending jobs.

As a result, Myanmar’s manufacturing PMI fell to a record low in March, lowering the number of new products and orders, and a record number of pending jobs, according to the IHS Markit Myanmar Manufacturing PMI released on April 1, 2021. Due to the current situation, in March, the last month of the first quarter, Myanmar’s manufacturing sector declined significantly and factories and customers remained closed. At the same time, volatile demand led to a near-record decline in the workforce, during which time factories remained closed, leading to the largest number of unfinished jobs in survey history.

Due to COVID-19, factories continued to close and companies plummeted due to a sharp drop in new jobs in September 2020, and the current situation has exacerbated the situation as workers have been forced to return to their hometowns. According to the IHS Markit Myanmar Manufacturing PMI, the key indicator of productivity, Myanmar fell from a record low of 27.7 in February 2021 to 27.5 in March. The survey also signals the worst decline in manufacturing since December 2015, when the survey began. In addition, even though the number of new orders has decreased, the number of unfinished projects has been the largest in the survey history. 

During this period, new orders fell and demand volatility in the coming months forced companies to cut both pre-production and post-production inventories. Inflationary pressures intensified last March due to a shortage of raw materials and a weak exchange rate from the dollar to the kyat. Overall, weak demand is exacerbated by the fact that companies have been able to raise their selling prices modestly because they have not been able to bear the burden of their costs. According to the survey, production volume expectations for the coming year reflect weak demand. Confidence has fallen since September 2020, falling far below the survey’s long-term average. The survey is based on original data collected from industry by IHS Markit and sponsored by Japan-based Nikkei Media Group.

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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Myanmar’s border trade reaches $5.6 bln in first six months of FY

Myanmar’ trade with foreign countries through border posts reached US$5.6 billion as of 2 April in the current financial year 2020-2021, which started in October, according to the figures released by the Ministry of Commerce. During the period, the country’s export via land borders amounted to $3.7 billion while its import shared $1.9 billion.

This FY’s border trade down by over $264 million, compared to the same period of the last FY2020-2021 when it amounted to $5.9 billion, the Ministry’s figures said. Muse topped the list of border checkpoints with the most trade value of $2.5 billion, followed by Myawady with $729 million.

The country conducts border trade with neighbouring China through Muse, Lwejel, Kampaiti, Chinshwehaw and Kengtung with Thailand via Tachilek, Myawady, Kawthoung, Myeik, Hteekhee, Mawtaung and Meisei borders, with Bangladesh via Sittway and Maungtaw and with India through Tamu and Reed checkpoints, respectively.

From 1 October to 2 April of this FY, the country’s foreign trade has totalled over $7.8 billion while its sea trade valued at $4.1 billion, according to the Ministry’s report. Myanmar mainly exports agricultural products, animal products, marine products, minerals, forest products, manufacturing goods, and others. In contrast, capital goods, intermediate goods and consumer goods are imported to the country.

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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Fishery exports plunge to $448.6 mln in H1

Export earnings from the fisheries sector over the first half (1 Oct-2 Apr) of the financial year 2020-2021 touched a low of US$448.6 million, a decrease of $56.7 million from the year-ago period, according to statistics released by the Commerce Ministry. The figures stood at $505.37 million during a year-ago period. Myanmar’s fishery exports have slightly declined in H1, owing to the COVID-19 impacts and the current trade delay amid the political changes. At present, the frozen fish export market in Mon State came to a halt. Therefore, some fish are processed into dried fish for the domestic market. Saltwater fishing businesses this year might suffer loss, a fishing entrepreneur said.

The current political climate negatively affects the fish market. Political stability plays a crucial role in economic growth, including the fishery sector. Following the drop in exports, the prices of fish and prawn also drop in the domestic market. Myanmar Fisheries Federation (MFF) expected to earn more than $800 million from fishery exports in the FY2019-2020, and it reached a target. Myanmar exports fisheries products, such as fish, prawns, and crabs, to markets in 40 countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, the US, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and countries in the European Union. Additionally, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) issued guidelines to ensure food safety during the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020.

The permitted companies are advised to carry out food safety plans, follow the guidelines of WHO and FAO, formulate the safety management system and suspend the exports if any suspicious foodborne virus or virus infection risk are found in the products. They can resume the exports once the products meet food safety criteria set by the General Administration of Customs of the People Republic of China (GACC). China is the second-largest buyer of Myanmar’s fishery products, accounting for US$254 million out of the overall fishery export value of $850 million in the financial year2019-2020. The federation expects to reach a fishery export target of US$1 billion in the current FY2020-2021.

The MFF is making concerted efforts to increase fishery export earnings by developing fish farming lakes that meet international standards and adopting advanced fishing techniques. The foreign market requires suppliers to obtain Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Good Aquaculture Practices (GAqP) certificates to ensure food safety. Fishery products must be sourced only from hatcheries compliant with GAqP to meet international market standards. The MFF works with fish farmers, processors, and the Fisheries Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation to develop the GAqP system.
Processors can screen fishery products for food safety at ISO-accredited laboratories under the Fisheries Department. There are 480,000 acres of fish and prawn breeding farms across the country and more than 120 cold-storage facilities in Myanmar.

Myanmar exported 340,000 tonnes of fishery products worth $530 million in the 2013-2014FY, 330,000 tonnes worth $480 million in the 2014-2015FY, 360,000 tonnes worth $500 million in the 2015-2016FY, 430,000 tonnes worth $600 million in the 2016-2017FY, 560,000 tonnes worth $700 million in the 2017-2018FY, 580,000 tonnes worth over $730 million in the 2018-2019FY and $847.5 million, according to the Commerce Ministry. An MFF official said the federation had asked the government to tackle problems faced in exporting farm-raised fish and prawns through G2G pacts and ensuring smooth freight movement between countries to bolster exports. Myanmar’s economy is more dependent on the agricultural sector to a large extent. Also, the fisheries sector contributes a lot to the national gross domestic product (GDP). Its fishery production, including shrimps and saltwater and freshwater fish, is far better than the regional ones. If the country can boost processing technology, it will contribute to its economy. It will also earn more income for the stakeholders in the supply chain, stated Yangon Region Fisheries Department. 

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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USD vs MMK exchange rate rises up to K1,600 per dollar

THE US dollar exchange rate against Myanmar Kyat has risen to K1,600 per dollar in the local exchange market. Although the dollar exchange rate hit only around K1,500 per dollar in the local market on 31 March, the rate jumped to K1,605 per dollar on 20 April with a rise of about K100 per dollar within three weeks. Though the dollar exchange rate stood at around K1,330 per dollar at the local market at the end of January, the rate jumped to over K1,465 per dollar in February.

The exchange rate skipped by K130 per dollar in a few days. Consequently, the CBM sold US$6.8 million on 3 February at a foreign currency auction system to stabilize the exchange rate. Since the beginning of the year, the bank has been purchasing and selling the US dollar in the auction market to control the rise and fall of the exchange rate. In the domestic market in 2021, the highest and lowest exchange rate is currently fixed around K1,327-1,345 in January, K1,335-1,465 in February and K1,420-1,550 in March.

In 2020, the exchange rate moved in the range of K1,465-1,493 in January, K1,436-1,465 in February, K1,320-1,445 in March, K1,395-1,440 in April, K1,406-1,426 in May, K1,385-1,412 in June, K1,367-1,410 in July, K1,335-1,390 in August, K1,310-1,355 in September, K1,282-1,315 in October, K1,303-1,330 in November and K1,324-1,403 in December. In the last six months in 2019, the rates were fixed at K1,508-1,517 in July, K1,510-1,526 in August, K1,527-1,565 in September, K1,528-1,537 in October, K1,510-1,524 in November and K1,485-1,513 in December. On 20 September 2018, the dollar exchange rate hit a record high of K1,650 in the local exchange market.

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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Foreigners hold over 4.5 million shares in equity market so far

According to statistics released by the exchange, foreign investors have purchased 4,502,760 shares of four listed companies on the Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX) as of 9 March 2021. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar (SECM) has allowed foreigners to invest in the local equity market from 20 March 2020. At present, shares of six listed companies — First Myanmar Investment (FMI), Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings (MTSH), Myanmar Citizens Bank (MCB), First Private Bank (FPB), TMH Telecom Public Co. Ltd, and Ever Flow River Group Public Co., Ltd (EFR) — are available for local investors for trading. FMI, MTSH, TMH and EFR accepted foreign shareholding, and FPB is for block trade only. The foreign shareholding ratio of the companies on the exchange, except FMI, is less than one per cent.

The upper limit for FMI’s foreign shareholding amount is at 14 per cent, with 4,635,357 shares. The foreign investors are about to reach the limit for shareholding. Consequently, the status of buy order acceptance is suspended on 1 December 2020. As of 9 March 2021, foreigners hold 4,458,136 shares of FMI, 32,054 shares of MTSH, 5,445 shares of TMH and 7,125 shares of EFR. The SECM, under the Ministry of Planning and Finance, issued a notice on 12 July 2019, announcing that foreigners would be allowed to invest in shares listed on the YSX.  After opening bank and securities accounts, an investor can send buying/selling orders under the stock trading rules stipulated in the Trading Business Regulations, the SECM notified.

Last year, the senior executive manager of the Yangon Stock Exchange highlighted how foreign participation would entail better capital inflows and a long term and sustainable investment. It would also encourage good corporate governance and support market orientation, he added.
Regarding share trading, the foreign investors must strictly comply with the rules stipulated by the Central Bank of Myanmar. The security companies will monitor the daily trades of foreigners in keeping with the rules and regulations so that they do not exceed the limit set for each listed company.  Under Section 42 (a) of the Securities and Exchange Law and Section 4 of the Trading Participant Business Regulations, the YSX has granted trading qualifications to the following securities companies — Myanmar Securities Exchange Centre Co. Ltd. (MSEC), KBZ Stirling Coleman Securities Co. Ltd. (KBZSC), CB Securities Limited (CBSC), AYA Trust Securities Co. Ltd. (AYATSC), KTZ Ruby Hill Securities Co. Ltd. (KTZRH), and UAB Securities Limited (UABSC).

According to the stock exchange, investors have to send their buy or sell orders to the YSX through the securities companies who have been issued a license by the SECM as well as a trading qualification by the YSX. The YSX was launched four years ago to improve the private business sector. It disseminates rules and regulations regarding the stock exchange and knowledge of share trading through stock investment seminars. The stock exchange has also sought the government’s support to get more public companies to participate in the stock market and help more institutional investors, such as financing companies, investment banks, and insurance companies, to emerge.  Amid the COVID-19 crisis, Myanmar’s securities market has been able to continue operating without stopping trading. 

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar