Smallholders’ trade with Individual Trading Cards (ITC) through 18 overland border trade stations has resulted in more imports than exports, according to the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).
The cards, introduced in 2011 to promote small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and smallholder traders while curbing informal trade, are open for application to any citizen over 18 years old, while successful applicants are allowed to trade up to K10 million ($10,000) per month for a term of one year that can be extended.
Imports shadowing exports in trade with ITCs can be attributed to increased demand for construction materials fuelled by infrastructure development projects brought up by the high influx of foreign investments and also demand for equipment and machinery by start up and expanding small and medium enterprises, U Win Tint, director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs under the MOC told Myanmar Business Today.
“The technology our industry uses is of inferior quality, pushing up the production costs and the sale prices. But neighbouring countries have advanced technologies and cheaper prices so the people buy only their products making local manufacturing mostly unfeasible. That’s why imports exceed exports,” he said.
ITCs are being issued in border areas with China, Thailand, India and Bangladesh at Tamu, Myawaddy, Tachileik, Muse, Lweljwel, Sittwe, Maungtaw, Chinshwehaw, Kanpitetee, Myeik, Kawthaung, Reed, Htanatalan, Mawtaung, Kyaingtone and Myitkyina.
According to the MOC, Tachileik and Kyaingtone trade stations have issued the most ITCs while Sittwe, Kawthaung, Htantalan and Lweljwel have seen no applicants.
According to official statistics, 275 ITCs have been issued in 2014-15 fiscal year as of November 10 while exports and imports stood at K190 million and K330 million respectively.