Thai-Burmese Border Closure Leads to Shortages

A month-long closure of the Thai-Burmese border to trade has caused a shortage of consumer items such as televisions and refrigerators in Rangoon, media reports said Sunday.

Burmese ruling junta last month shut down the Myawaddy-Mae Sot border crossing after accusing Thailand of building an embankment on the Moei River to alter the common border line.

Mae Sot, in Thailand’s Tak province, is a major source of Thai consumer goods into neighbouring Burma, usually transported across the Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge.

With the route now blocked, retailers in Rangoon – Burma’s largest city and former capital – have started to complain of shortages and rising prices, the Myanmar Times reported.

“Television sales increased prior to and during the World Cup. I was able to sell almost every TV set I had and I’m about to run out,” a senior sales and marketing manager of an electronics firm was quoted as saying.

Htay Aung, a spokesman for Khit Thit Electronics Center, said the only products his company had left were those that have been imported via normal trade channels.

“We have run out of stock that we’d normally import via border trade, mainly televisions and refrigerators,” he said.

Most retailers prefer importing electrical goods from Thailand via the border because they can avoid paying taxes on them.

Appliances imported by air or sea are taxed 40 per cent of value.

“Selling electronics is a very competitive market and retailers do what they have to do. That’s why most importers mix their tax-paid televisions with those they’ve bought through border trade,” Htay Aung said.

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