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A vendors sells vegetable at the street market in Pyin Oo Lwin township, Mandalay, on March 11, 2023. (Photo by Sai Aung MAIN / AFP)

Myanmar’s commerce ministry announced that it will no longer allow businesses to store imported goods in their warehouses while the processing of the import license is completed, citing the effect of the delay on the quality of imported goods and in an attempt to regulate the markets better.

Regulations and restrictions regarding trade, among others, were relaxed during the previous administration, but have been tightened up steadily by the post-coup administration.

The recent readjustment of the laws related to over a thousand of types of goods, including meat, fish, electronics, cosmetics, construction materials and many more, is contained in a nearly 500-page document and requires that the whole import process must be approved and licensed first and foremost. This rule will also apply to companies operating within special economic zones.

The requirements seem, however, to be temporary, as they will only last for six months.

According to a popular electronics store in downtown Yangon, it is a huge hassle and will substantially increasescosts.

“So, basically, we cannot get this done in Yangon. We have to travel to Nay Pyi Taw, because all of the main offices are there and they are only allowing the whole thing to only be done in Nay Pyi Taw. You have to make a trip there to apply, either wait there or come back to Yangon and then go back again. There is an online process of sorts, but you’re not even guaranteed to get it. After the military takeover, there are so many documents you have to show, such as your export earnings,” said the owner, a Kyauktadar Township resident.

“The general sentiment from the government is that they want to cut down on imports and rely more on locally made products. Maybe it is possible for some goods, but what about electronics? What about medicine and other more complex consumer goods? Right now, all that is being achieved is that the price of imported goods are rising even further and the black market will get bigger than it already is,” said the shop owner.




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