Myanmar’s Rice Sector Development

08 February 2019

As of January 18, EU has restored the tariff on Myanmar rice import due to economic damage to European producers. The import duties are categorized in the following three years; € 175 per ton in the 1st year, € 150 per ton in the 2nd year, and then to € 125 per ton in the 3rd year.

With regard to that concern, U Aung Soe, Director General of Myanmar Trade Promotion Organization commented that the current tariff of EU is too high. If the production cost of rice can be reduced, that’s another solution. However, the export volume to EU is pretty low, so not much affect on Myanmar rice export market can be found. One thing Myanmar can do to solve this problem is to look for new markets to be able to export rice.

EU delegation to Myanmar also pointed out that the tariff has nothing to do with any political affairs between Myanmar and EU. The decision was made just to protect European rice producers.

Last year in 2018, Myanmar exported 3.5 million metric tons of rice in total to the whole world including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, EU and Africa. China ranked top importer of rice with 1.5 million tons, while EU imported 0.3 million tons. It was the historical record-breaking achievement in 70 years with USD 1,136 million export revenue.

Looking back, Myanmar rice export market has dramatically been driven beginning from 2013. From 2013 to 2017, the export volumes were fluctuating between the range of 1 million metric tons and 2 million metric tons. Before 2013, the rice export volumes were even much lesser.

“To be able to export 4 million metric tons rice by 2020-2021, to be able to generate USD 1.5 Billion rice export revenue by 2020-2021, and to diversify rice-based products more are the targets of Myanmar Rice Industry,” explained U Ye Min Aung, vice chairman of Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry as well as secretary of Myanmar Rice Federation.

To do so, private and public partnership should be enhanced. We have to look into renewable energy generation at the places where electricity is needed. Lack of stabilization policies, lack of balance between border and normal export routes, poor private-public partnership are some of the key disablers, suggested U Ye Min Aung.