Myanmar: Myanmar to discuss rice exports with Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has expressed interest in a formal arrangement to import 50,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar, according to Ministry of Commerce assistant secretary U Khin Maung Lwin.
The Sri Lankan ambassador to Myanmar, KWND Karunaratne, made the offer on January 23 during a visit to the Union Minister for Commerce U Than Myint, the assistant secretary said.
“[Sri Lanka] wants to buy rice from us and they want to do this [using an agreement] between governments,” said U Khin Maung Lwin, adding that the discussion would now move to matters such as quality and price.
“We’ve told their ambassador to respond to these questions as soon as possible,” he said. Once the two sides have agreed on the terms of the import a formal agreement could be signed, he added.
Myanmar has exported rice to Sri Lanka in the past, but only in small amounts and without any agreement at the government level.
The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF), which represents private sector rice industry associations and traders, is typically involved in any of Myanmar’s government-to-government agreement over rice exports. MRF vice chair U Soe Tun said that MRF is ready to facilitate rice exports according to Sri Lankan demand, but that there had not yet been any discussion of price.
Potential agreements with other regional countries have fallen through because Myanmar has been unable to match the price of other rice exporters like Vietnam.
The commerce ministry’s trade promotion team will manage the logistics of any rice export to Sri Lanka.
Before this, Myanmar traders exported rice to Sri Lanka but export volumes were very small and exports were done between traders.
U Soe Tun said that the MRF is in charge of recording the export price for Myanmar rice, and that the freight-on-board price currently varies from US$300 to $400 depending on quality.
Ministry of Commerce data show that trade between Myanmar and Sri Lanka fluctuated between $800,000 and $1.1 million between the 2011-12 and 2013-14 fiscal years. Trade volumes jumped to $4.1 million in 2014-15, and declined to $3 million in 2015-16.
As of the end of November 2016, trade for the 2016-17 fiscal year stood at $3.5 million.