Friday, September 11, 2009

Kokang Crisis Disrupts Border Trade

The Irrawaddy News

Rangoon — The conflict in the Kokang area near the Sino-Burmese has disrupted border trade and caused shortages of Chinese goods in markets as far away as Rangoon and Mandalay.

The shortages will lead to price rises, according to local traders.

A shopkeeper who sells popular brands of Chinese-made snacks at Rangoon’s Yuzana Plaza in Rangoon said: “If we don't get fresh supplies by the end of this month, prices will jump.”

Other major Rangoon markets such as Mingala, Nyaung-bin Lay and Thein-gyi also report shortages of Chinese goods. One trader said supplies of food, medicine and electronic equipment had dropped in the past 10 days by one-third.

A Chinese trader in Nyaung-bin Lay market said supplies of Chinese-made formula milk powder, biscuits and dry noodles had run out. Suppliers were reluctant to travel to the Kokang area, he said.

"No one dares to go to the border, because we are still receiving information that the situation in that area is still not good,” said a Mingala market trader. “So, there are no new imports. We are buying supplies from other local traders from Muse and Mandalay. I am sure prices will rise.”

In Mandalay, a trader said 70 percent of the consumer goods in local markets came from China.

"We still have some consumer goods in storage to last the next two or three months,” he said. “But we don't know when we can get fresh supplies. So, we have to sell things very carefully."

The trader also thought prices were bound to rise.

Some traders with long experience of market conditions fear that the Kokang conflict could have long-term effects on the Burmese economy.

One Mandalay trader said the Kokang crisis was being followed with concern by Burmese-born Chinese.

"If the Wa group gets involved in this conflict, it will get much worse,” he said. “My relatives in Lashio live in fear, because Burmese government troops are collecting people at night and forcing them to be army porters. Half the population in Lashio are Kokang and Wa.”

The trader said government forces in Northern Shan State are selectively conscripting only Chinese, Kokang and Wa people as porters to be used in the front line.

Meanwhile, the state-run newspaper Myanma Alin reported on Thursday that the Kokang area is now peaceful and stable. The refugees who fled into neighboring China are returning and 14,253 had so far crossed back into Burma, the newspaper said.

Myanma Alin also reported that the authorities are selling chicken and fish cheaply to residents of Laogai, the Kokang capital. Local stores, shops and market are open for business as usual.

The newspaper said government troops were digging new drains and working on other municipal projects for Laogai.

Burma Newscasts - Kokang Crisis Disrupts Border Trade
Friday, September 11, 2009

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