The MRF Secretary General says that the government is framing a new trade policy and it would help rice exporters gain access to new markets. However, Myanmar will have to build all-season ports, and construct high-capacity warehouses and rice reprocessing plants to sustain such a high volume of exports, he says.
Trade experts say that Myanmar can export around 3 million tons of rice in five years if the government addresses the funding needs of the farmers, and help them earn profits. Due to inadequate funding and subsidies from the government, farmers are forced to borrow at high interest rates, according to local sources. They say increasing demand for Myanmar could be sustained by producing quality rice to meet the specifications of the international buyers.
MRF is working with the government in formulating the new trade policy, which aims to increase both rice production and exports. The new policy also aims to attract foreign investment in the country's rice sector. However, the government will also have to tackle increasing illegal rice exports to China through Shan State's Muse border to protect the country’s rice sector. Local sources say about 60% of Myanmar's rice is exported through these channels to China.
According to trade sources, Myanmar's rice exports are expected to decline to about 1.1 million tons in the FY 2013-14 (April - March), down about 45% from 1.6 million tons exported in the previous fiscal year due to lower demand from China and increased sales by Thailand. However, the USDA estimates Myanmar to export 1.3 million tons of rice in 2014 (January - December), up 12% from an estimated 1.16 million tons in 2013. The agency estimates the country to produce 12 million tons of rice in the MY 2013-14, up about 2% from an estimated 11.7 million tons in the MY 2012-13.