A business exploration team to Myanmar has found it difficult to do trade with the possible alternative market, particularly for imports, for reasons included mainly the old banking practices.
They make all international banking transactions through advance telegraphic transfer (TT), which goes through Singapore-based banks, said additional commerce secretary Manoj Kumar Roy, who led the team.
He said local importers consider it risky to trade against TT, instead of Letter of Credit, although Myanmar is now using the instrument in cases of trade with China, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
The four-member team visited the neighbouring country last week to explore import possibilities of essential items like onion, gram, garlic and ginger as Bangladesh is heavily dependent on the single market of India.
Any policy decision by India like administering export prices or imposing a ban on any of such items to export causes serious price volatility in Bangladesh market.
The official said there are also problems like sectarian and political unrests in the Myanmar states of Rakhine and Maungdaw, affecting the Maungdaw–Teknaf border trade while most of Myanmar businessmen do not know the maximum trade limit of $50,000 through the border.
“We’re trying to import essential items from Myanmar to reduce the dependence on only one particular source,” Roy told the Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday.
“We become helpless when the main sourcing country slaps a ban or raise the export price of any item.”
Bangladesh every year imports 600,000 tonnes of onion from India while a small volume of it comes from Myanmar through unofficial channels. India recently fixed the export price of onion at US$650 per tonne from $350. As a result, the price of the item in Bangladesh shot up as high as Tk80 per kilogram (kg) at the retail level.
As per the price list of Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), imported onion was being sold at the retail market on Wednesday at prices ranging between Tk60 and Tk65 per Kg and the local variety at Tk62 to Tk68 per kg.