China-Myanmar Border Gate Reopens for Fruit Season Rush

Fruit Stand
Self-employed Valentin Traba, 45, sells fruits on the street in downtown Havana, Cuba, December 6, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Stringer)

Bordering gate Kyin San Kyawt has opened doors once more for watermelon trades between China and Myanmar.

Assistant Secretary of Myanmar's Ministry of Commerce, U Khin Maung Lwin confirmed to The Myanmar Times that the gate has been reopened for the fruit season. The temporary reopening comes after negotiations between China and Myanmar on January 7 yielded positive results.

The unofficial border gate was closed late December and it has greatly impacted the exchange of goods in the China-Myanmar markets. The reopening announcement has brightened up the fruit-trading industry and sellers are preparing to exchange truckloads of fruits while negotiations for a full-blown opening are underway.

The agreement between China and Myanmar states that only 1,000 trucks can pass through the gate starting January 11. The Wholesale Center is expected to be jam-packed by the end of the week as traders gather to exchange goods.

Experts believe trade disruptions between the two countries stem from Myanmar's lack of trade policies. Vice-chair of the Union of Myanmar Federal Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, "There is currently no precise policy for border trade. Every country should have the policy to deal with trade disagreements and volatility. Right now, Myanmar is on the losing end with little power to deal with trade issues."

China has pledged to allow tons of muskmelons and watermelons to be exported from Myanmar. There is no confirmation as to what other fruits and goods will be exchanged but traders are looking forward to improved sales as the fruit season is just around the bend.

The Ministry of Commerce reported a huge drop of $562 million in trade sales during the months of October through December. This decline is believed to be a result of China's border policies, as well as the border gate's closure. On the other hand, analysts are expecting some sort of a bilateral deal to be reached by the two trading countries sometime soon.

Meanwhile, Xinhua reported that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt communicated via phone to discuss issues with Myanmar.

According to the report, the two sides talked about ways to improve bilateral talks between China and Myanmar so as to resolve refugee repatriation issues within the state of Rakhine. Wang said China is keen on encouraging Myanmar and Bangladesh to communicate about bilateral ties that will benefit both parties.

The Kyin San Kyawt gate's official reopening has yet to be announced. Still, traders are optimistic about the issue's immediate resolution as the fruit industry strives to recover from losses incurred from the border gate's 2-week closure.

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