Home Insider Goverment Insider Interview with H.E Dr Than Myint

Interview with H.E Dr Than Myint

Name : H.E Dr Than Myint

Position : Minister, Ministry of Commerce


Myanmar’s economy has undergone strong economic growth over the last two years. However, growth spurts are usually accompanied by growing pains and Myanmar faces big challenges ahead. Myanmar Insider recently talked with H.E. Dr. Than Myint of the Ministry of Commerce to discuss the obstacles facing Myanmar’s economy when it comes to trade.

What is the biggest challenge the Ministry is facing currently?

Myanmar has so many chances to boost economy with trading. For 2015- 2016 fiscal year, we expect the export to grow three fold. Myanmar can take advantages of its geographic location between the world’s most populated countries, India and China.

One of the challenges the ministry faces is illegal imports and exports. Unqualified products that are brought into Myanmar illegally from our neighboring countries, such as food, beverages, and medicine can have adverse effects on the health of our citizens. On the flipside, products that are illegally exported to evade taxes means a loss of income to the country. Myanmar’s border is 6522 kilometer and we need to keep an eye on it and firmly manage illegal trading.

Another challenge is both human and financial resources. The ministry provides service and assistance for the long-term development of the private sector so we need professional staff and experts who will operate efficiently. Lack of modern technology is also a concern and the government needs to budget for better development in this field.

We can meet these challenges in the coming years by reducing the corruption among the government staff and developing a business ethic among the private business owners.

What are the main Ministry projects for development and economic prosperity?

We are carrying out the two development projects, the National Export Strategy (NES) and Diagnostic Trade Integration Study and the Document of Trade Integrated Survey (DTIS)

The primary objective of DTIS is to separate the public from the private sector and provide transparency for both. The goal is for both sectors to cooperate and overcome the challenges that have developed in the trading sector.

The NES was strategically designed with the assistance of the German Agency for International Cooperation(GIZ) and the International Trade Center (ITC) prior to 2013. The primary purpose of the NES is to boost Myanmar’s export and trade sectors. There are four stages to this: pre-engagement, inception, design, and implementation management.

Besides, three workshops including authorized government ministries, organizations, Non-government organizations were held three times and discussed about expectations, objectives, to choose the priority-sectors, objectives and planning in detail for each sector.

The highlighted sectors for NES are rice, beans and edible oilseed, marine products, textile and garment, timber and forestry, tourism, and rubber. Myanmar Trade Centre launched on June 2014 in Yangon for the purpose of providing assistance to the import-export business. Now, there are eight trade centers at Yangon, Mandalay, Myitkyina, Pathein, Monywa, Magwe, Mawlamyaing, Loikaw.

With support from international aid and in collaboration with the private sector we will be able to meet the expectations and objectives of each of these priority sectors.

What are your plans to improve trade deficit with neighboring countries?

Firstly, I would like to explain our trade deficit. For the building process of a developing country, import volume will be more than the export volume because local product supply can not meet the local product demand. That is the primary reason for the trade deficit. To improve the trade deficit , the ministry will try to grow the export volume by three times its amount within the next five years. But we cannot only rely on natural resources such as oil and gas, petroleum, forest products to meet these goals because those resources are finite. So, we are trying to improve agricultural and the small and medium enterprise sectors; however, those sectors lack infrastructure, technology and skilled workers. With the support and collaboration of international non-government organizations and developed countries such as the European Union, America, Japan and Korea, we are getting closer to solving this issue.

What are your plans to increase exports out of Myanmar?

We are going to implement three primary tasks to increase exports. The first one is to increase export volume through agricultural sector, the second through the industrial sector, and the third by educating people. The second is concentrated on providing the best quality products by developing modern technology and educating the people within those sectors on a better, more efficient systems management. The third one focuses on researching and developing a knowledge of trading in order to improve the private sector.[/paypal]