In light of the rumours that automobile import policy would be changed to ease Yangon’s worsening traffic situation, Union Minister for Commerce U Win Myint said car imports will not be halted.
The minister assured auto traders during a meeting with car importers and the Myanmar Automobile Manufacturers and Distributors Association.
“We will not cancel car import permits. Everyone is happy that any citizen over 18 years old is allowed to import cars. But we are open to suggestions to ease the transportation problem in Yangon,” he said.
Before the changes regarding the automobile import policy were implemented, cars were imported through permits granted to sailors and to emigrant workers and also through the Foreign Ministry and Labor Ministry. However, with the new changes, any citizen over 18 years can import automobiles by opening a foreign currency account.
“Just before the meeting, we talked with showroom managers, automakers, accessories manufactures and auto traders and none of them wants the car imports to be banned. It is true that we are facing traffic jams but more systematic enforcements are needed,” said Dr Soe Tun, chair of Myanmar Automobile Manufacturers and Distributors Association.
Since the government launched changes in the automobile import policy in 2011, 368,487 mixed-use vehicles and 234,465 taxi cabs have been imported according to the statistics of the Ministry of Commerce, while 80 percent of the imported vehicles are being driven in the Yangon region.
The government has allowed 186 car showrooms to open – 170 in Yangon, 12 in Mandalay and 4 in Naypyitaw – including 14 showrooms that sell new cars from multinational automakers including Toyota, Nissan, Chevrolet, Ford and Jaguar. Of the showrooms approved, 51 have not yet started operations after more than six months.