Friday, July 17, 2009

Used Car Business Accelerates in Burma

The Irrawaddy News

Hundreds of used cars, mostly made in Japan, are stockpiled in the Burmese border town of Myawaddy, awaiting the arrival of Rangoon-based car dealers, said a border businessman.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Friday, a car agent in Myawaddy, said “At some gate points we have 50, 150 or even 500 cars.”

Sometimes 10 cars are sold in single day, including Toyota Land Cruisers, Nissan and Toyoto Hilux and Parado. Prices range from 300,000 baht (US $9,000) to 70,000 baht ($2,100).

Many Rangoon businessmen, including representatives of Tay Za and Zaw Zaw, who are both close associates of Burma's ruling generals, have come to purchase cars, in addition to family members of high-ranking generals, he said.

He said Tay Za and Zaw Zaw’s marketing envoys came twice in one week and bought several cars at a time.

Burma has launched cars auctions at several locations in recent months, according to businessmen, who said the auctions generate income for many people who then buy new cars.

Many of the used Japanese cars in Myawaddy are a decade old, but in many cases they are replacing cars in Rangoon that are several decades older and badly damage. Usually, the used cars arrive through Thai agents.

In June, the Sakura Auto Auction Centre of Sakura Technical Services Co Ltd opened in Cherry Garden Housing in South Okkalapa Township in Rangoon, marking the first time a commercial business has been allowed to sell new cars.

On opening day, the auction sold four new Toyota Land cruisers with a floor price of 300 to 370 million kyat (US $277,778 to $342,592); 50 new model Toyota with a floor price of 100-220 million kyat (US $92,592 to $203,708); and 20 used Toyota with a floor price of 4-100 million kyat (US $3,704 to $92,592), according to Rangoon-based car dealers. Car prices are ridiculously inflated in Burma compared to Western prices.

Businessmen in Rangoon believed that Sakura company is close to influential generals.
Normally, Burma's regime allows only a few thousand new cars to be imported each year.

According to rumors, businessmen say permission to import new cars is done through only two persons in the country—Snr-Gen Than Shwe and vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye.

Some wealthy persons in Rangoon are seen driving Hummers and Italian sports cars.
According to a salesperson with Sakura Auto Auction Centre, the company will import new cars monthly.

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