Two Myanmar-China border crossings re-open for trade

FILE - Motorists pass the China-Myanmar border gate in Muse in Shan state on July 5, 2021, as the Chinese city of Ruili near the border with Myanmar imposed a lockdown and started mass testing. Photo: AFP

Yangon, Myanmar | Two Myanmar-China border crossings have re-opened for trade after the movement of goods was suspended for almost seven months due to Covid-19 restrictions, officials said.

Five shipping containers of produce were exchanged on Friday at the Kyin San Kyawt border gate, around 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) from the northern Myanmar city of Muse.

Min Thein, vice-chair of the Muse Rice Wholesale Centre, said an estimated 800,000 bags of rice had been in limbo since the border was shut in April.

"It will take one month to export all these rice bags," he told AFP.

China says it will allow more trucks to cross next week.

Elsewhere in Myanmar's Shan state, the Chinshwehaw border gate also re-opened for commerce Friday, the Chinese embassy in Yangon said.

"China-Myanmar border trade is trying to return to normal as soon as possible," the embassy posted on Facebook alongside pictures of container trucks and officials in full plastic protective gear.

The border shutdowns came as a huge blow to Myanmar's agricultural export sector with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue lost.

The country's economy has tanked since February's military coup sparked widespread protests, bloodshed and international sanctions. 

Myanmar typically exports seafood, fruit and rice to China via land routes while it receives electronics, medicine and construction materials in return.

The trade disruptions increased the cost of living for families living in Myanmar border towns.

"Food and clothes that come from China now have a higher price," a woman from Muse told AFP.

"We have many difficulties as our income cannot keep up with the price of goods."

© Agence France-Presse

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