Myanmar slashes trade target on Covid after crippling coup

Myanmar slashes trade target on Covid after crippling coup

People line up outside a bank to withdraw cash in Yangon on May 13, 2021. (Reuters photo)
People line up outside a bank to withdraw cash in Yangon on May 13, 2021. (Reuters photo)

Myanmar, which has been in turmoil since a military coup in February, cut its trade target for this year by 16%, citing the impact of Covid-19.

The government reduced its trade outlook to $29 billion, from $34.7 billion forecast around the start of the fiscal year in October, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Khin Maung Lwin said in an interview this week. That would be down 21% from the previous fiscal and the lowest in five years, according to ministry data.

Sanctions and other international pressure since the coup have had no significant impact on trade, according to Khin Maung Lwin. The new forecasts put exports at $14 billion and imports at $15 billion, down about 14% and 19% from the previous outlook, respectively.

“The decline in trade volume is mainly driven by Covid-19, the same challenge that other countries are facing,” he said. “Our trading activities are operating as normal. Seaborne trade is also doing well, as cargo ships and vessels operate as normal.”

Workers' strikes and protests against the coup, as well as international sanctions and restrictions on cash withdrawals at home, have crippled the Southeast Asian economy. The World Bank forecasts Myanmar’s gross domestic product to shrink 10% this year, while Fitch Solutions sees a 20% contraction as “all areas of GDP by expenditure are set to collapse.”

China tops Myanmar’s list of trading partners, accounting for almost $12.2 billion, or about one-third, of the total last fiscal year, followed by Thailand, Singapore, Japan and India, according to commerce ministry data.

On Thursday, Myanmar reported 24 new Covid-19 cases, bringing its total to 143,183, including 3,216 deaths. The nation has administered about 3 million doses of AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines.

Do you like the content of this article?

Suu Kyi sentence puts spotlight on Myanmar's detained thousands

Deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was sentenced to four years in prison on Monday, later cut to two, is just one of thousands held in the country since the military seized power 10 months ago.


Indonesia bolsters recovery efforts after volcano kills 34

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo promised on Tuesday to bolster evacuation efforts and repair damaged homes after visiting the site of a volcanic eruption on Java that has killed at least 34 people.


Bank of Thailand urges banks to refrain from trading digital assets

The central bank on Tuesday said it does not want commercial banks to be directly involved in trading digital assets, citing the risks stemming from high price volatility.