30 July 2020
As Myanmar is an agriculture based country, it is exporting goods to other foreign countries from rice to different other agricultural produces. But as the world economy is hit by the outbreak of COVID-19, Myanmar is also facing the impacts not only when it comes to foreign trade but also domestic trade as well. As Yangon is the commercial city of Myanmar where many of the businesses are located and it holds a large part of goods flow in Myanmar. However according to the report by both the business persons from domestic merchandise associations and other local merchants, the domestic goods flow is hit hard by the impacts of COVID-19.
U Aung Moe is the secretary of Myanmar Highway Freight Transportation Services Association and he spoke to MI Radio about the current situation of freight transportation and he said, “When it comes to freight transportation in domestic level, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it has been much affected when we compare to that of the previous years. Every time in this time of the year during monsoon season, the freight transportation usually is down because this business cannot go well in monsoon the reason is most of the construction work has come to a halt and the farmers are in the process of farming. What is happening now is, we are in crisis of COVID-19 which makes the condition worst, as I mentioned before, the freight transportation is usually down during this monsoon season, but for this year COVID-19 just makes it worse. In the previous year when the business was down by monsoon season, we tried to do alternative business where we transported non-agricultural produces to other parts of Myanmar such as Myawady, but now due to some restrictions, we cannot even do that business now.”
In the business of freight transportation, trucks are the most crucial transportation means for freight transportation in Myanmar. According to the report by business persons from this sector, usually, the trucks numbering from 2,500 to 3,000 leave Yangon on a daily basis transporting the goods to different parts of Myanmar. But now only half of those trucks are operating due to the outbreak of COVID-19 meaning merely more than 1,000 trucks leave Yangon on a daily basis.
U Khin Han is the chairman of Myanmar Onion, Garlic and Culinary Crops Production and Exporting Association and he also spoke to MI Radio about how agricultural produces transporting to the domestic market is recovering and he said, “The flow of the goods is not running normally for now, we still have some issues for example, the flow of goods is not good, the sale is also a bit declining. If we take another example, while exporting goods to China, we cannot send the goods to China without including Chinese driver, so we have this kind of difficulty. Although this sector usually faces the decline of the business during monsoon season, this year due to COVID-19, the business has decreased by around 20% to 30% than the normal year. Other factors for the decline also contribute to the slow flow of the goods where some businesses take a break as they cannot profit anymore and some changes the location of their business. But here in this Bayint Naung market, the situation is getting back to normal although the work flow is not running 100%.”
U Than Hlaing is a truck driver who has been driving truck for six years currently driving back and forth between Yangon and Taunggyi and he also spoke to MI Radio and he said, “When COVID-19 first hit Myanmar, the number of journey we made was not many but the journey was fast and now as the situation is getting back to normal slowly, the number of journey we make is back to increase again and that makes the workflow quite slow. One complete journey would take around five to six days which means I make around 6 to 7 round trips in a month.”