Thursday, 09 February 2012 14:03 Mizzima News
The trade figure for the previous year was $12 billion thanks in part to trade policy changes, according to local media on Wednesday.
The trade volume attained $14 billion in the first 10 months (April-January) of 2011-12, The Myanmar Times reported.
Of the total during the period, export trade accounted for $7.1 billion and import trade $7.3 billion. Besides natural gas, marine products, rice, minerals and beans and pulses accounted for the bulk of trade.
In a reshaping of its economic system, the government meanwhile has exempted commercial tax on a number of export items such as rice, beans and pulses, corn, sesame, rubber, freshwater and saltwater products and animal products as well as value-added products made of timber, bamboo and rattan.
Burma mainly exports agricultural, animal, marine, mineral, forestry products and finished goods, while it imports cement, agricultural machinery and its spare parts, computer and electronic devices, motor cars, motorcycles, mobile phones and their accessories.
In a report released in late Janaury, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) team said Burma has the potential to become “the next economic frontier in Asia.” The country is seen by the West as not only as a source of oil and gas energy and minerals, but one of cheap labour.
Meral Karasulu, the deputy division chief of the Asia and Pacific Department at the International Monetary Fund, who led the IMF assessment team, said in a statement released on Wednesday: “Burma has a high growth potential and could become the next economic frontier in Asia, if it can turn its rich natural resources, young labor force, and proximity to some of the most dynamic economies in the world, into its advantage.”
She said the process of upgrading Burma's antiquated financial system has already begun with recent changes in the exchange rate and restrictions on current international payments and transfers. The IMF team studied current processes and analyzed factors that could streamline and enhance Burma’s financial system, including aspects of its budget expenditures.
“As this essential process continues, channeling the reform momentum to improving monetary and fiscal management and to structural reforms would allow taking full advantage of the positive effects of exchange rate unification,” she said.
Karasulu said modernizing Burma’s economy would require changes to enhance the business and investment climate, modernizing the financial sector, and further liberalizing trade and foreign direct investment.
Burma’s real GDP growth is expected to increase to 5½ per cent in FY2011/12 and 6 percent in FY2012/13, driven by commodity exports and higher investment supported by robust credit growth and improved business confidence.
“Inflation, projected at 4.2 percent for FY2011/12, is expected to pick up to 5.8 per cent in FY2012/13 as the recent decline in food prices phases out,” she said.