According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, Bangladesh’s export earnings from Myanmar stood at $21.37 million, down by 9.93%, from the last fiscal year. In FY 2016-17, Bangladesh earned $23.73 million from the neighboring country
Bangladesh’s exports to Myanmar have declined by nearly 10% to $21.37 million in the last fiscal year due to the Rohingya crisis.
According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, Bangladesh’s export earnings from Myanmar stood at $21.37 million, down by 9.93%, from the last fiscal year. In FY 2016-17, Bangladesh earned $23.73 million from the neighboring country.
The business community and trade experts blamed the ongoing Rohingya crisis for the downswing in export earnings as it hurt the shipment of export goods at the border.
Following attacks on Myanmar security outposts, reportedly launched by a small band of Rohingya insurgents, a deadly military campaign began in Rakhine state on August 25 which resulted in a mass influx of Rohingyas into Bangladesh.
Around 700,000 Rohingya men, women, and children have taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar, a southern district of Bangladesh where more than 300,000 displaced Myanmar nationals have already been living in the country for several decades.
Both the crackdown and the Rohingya exodus have seriously affected bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Myanmar in border areas.
Of the total amount, $15.45 million came from pharmaceuticals products, which is 15% of the total export earnings of $103.46 million. Myanmar is the number one importer of Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals.
Bilateral trade is in favour of Myanmar as Bangladesh imports more than it exports. In FY17, Bangladesh imported products worthTk384.88 crore, while exports to the country amounted to goods worth Tk187.78 crore.
“Trade activities between Bangladesh and Myanmar at the border were hampered due to the Rohingya crisis at Tekhnaf as most of the shipment takes place through this area ,” Founder President of the Bangladesh-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BMCCI), KB Ahmed, told the Dhaka Tribune.
“If the Rohingya crisis is not resolved, bilateral trade between the two neighboring countries will drop further,” said Ahmed.
While, there were confrontations between traders of the two countries – due to border tensions as a result of the Rohingya influx at Teknaf – which has hurt business decisions. As a result, both trade volume and value have declined, he added.
In increasing our regional trading base, Myanmar can be invaluable as it is a huge market for Bangladeshi pharmaceutical products. Bangladesh is going very strong in pharmaceutical manufacturing, which creates opportunities in Asian markets, former caretaker government adviser, AB Mirza Azizul Islam, told the Dhaka Tribune.
He suggested resolving trade issues so that business people can continue export-import without any disruption.
However, the trade volume is much higher than what the data suggests, since there is a lot of informal cross-border trade not reflected in the export and import data.
Ahmed urged the government to strengthen vigilance at the borders to stop the informal trade, which would help the government generate more revenue from formal and legitimate trade.
In an attempt to diversify the market, manufacturers have to focus on non-traditional markets, especially in Asia as it has high potential due to its proximity,” Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) President Abdus Salam Murshedy told the Dhaka Tribune.
“I hope the Rohingya crisis will be over soon as international rights groups and developed countries are working with Bangladesh to resolve it,” said Salam.
Bangladesh exports to Myanmar include frozen food, agri-products, chemical products, leather goods, jute goods, knitwear and woven garments, sweet biscuits and confectionery, and sanitary ware and parts.