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Economic Community

Increased import forces Myanmar to seek legislation to protect local industries

APD | Mon,2015-10-05

Annual increased import of Myanmar is forcing the country to seek legislation to protect the interest of local businesses as trade deficit sustained for the past several years.

The safeguard law is expected to be promulgated during the current government after parliament's approval, commerce experts said.

Local business people are to be exposed to growing competition when the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) begins, warned a recent trade remedy talks.

Pointing out that the process of enacting the anti-dumping and countervailing laws is in progress and requires the approval of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as scholarly advice, Adviser to the Ministry of Commerce voiced hope that these laws can be passed before the country's full accession into the AEC in 2018.

With the level of import continuing to go up following the country's economic reform along with trade relaxation and the implementation of AEC, laws that allow small and medium enterprises (SME) to call on the government for imposing anti- dumping and countervailing duties and protective measures are needed.

With business leaders also emphasizing the need for the government's support in the areas of financing, technology and ensuring growth of the country's SMEs which are not in a position to face the AEC, experts believed that if the legislation comes out, the country's production industries will be protected from the impact of increased import that have hurt or threatened local producers and the harmed industries will be restructured through these trade remedy.

According to official statistics, Myanmar continued to suffer a trade deficit of 2.196 billion U.S. dollars in the first five months (April-August) of the 2015-16 fiscal year following the last few fiscal years.

Myanmar has been implementing a 20-year long-term plan (2010-30) in four five-year phases aimed at becoming an industrialized nation.

At present, the first five-year plan (2010-2015) has been underway under the people-centered system.

The second five-year plan is to promote small and medium enterprise industries while the third five-year plan to improve larger businesses and special economic zones and the fourth five- year plan to build the nation as an industrialized one.

Though the cost cannot be estimated now, the project is said to be supported by the government budget, foreign loans and assistance.

The project plays an important role to lift Myanmar from least developed countries status after 2020 and to set the country on par with developed countries in the region.

Meanwhile, Myanmar is set to get a total of 50 million U.S. dollars' loans from Singapore and Vietnam for the development of its small and medium enterprises (SMEs), according to the industrial circle.

The loan to be obtained during 2015-16 fiscal year will be 30 million dollars from Vietnam and 20 million U.S. dollars from Singapore, according to the loan agreements signed with the loan providers.

According to the Ministry of Industry, there are more than 120, 000 licensed SMEs in Myanmar, making up over 99 percent of the overall industries across the country.

Meanwhile, Myanmar is also planning to draw a strategic plan for the development of SMEs with the help of a German foundation, Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF).

The plan covers capacity building, holding of workshops and conference, study tours and dissemination of knowledge about democratic reform process.

Myanmar's industrial sector contributes about 20 percent to its gross domestic product with private sector accounting for 92.36 percent.