Myanmar imposed new pest risk analysis requirements for imported plant-related commodities, including U.S. corn, on Jan. 1, 2017. Under the new directive, the Myanmar Plant Protection Division (PPD) prohibited the import of plant and plant-related products unless the exporting country provided this new information, which includes how the country deals with pest outbreaks and is intended to ensure commodity safety.
Myanmar officials granted the United States an extension for complying with these requirements, which expired on Aug. 31, 2017. In that time, several U.S. commodity groups, including the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and industry partners to put together the documentation needed to ensure that U.S. corn and U.S. DDGS met the technical requirements of the new regulations.
This documentation was accepted and, as a result, Myanmar is once again open to U.S. corn imports, as of Dec. 1, 2017.
“The feed industry views Myanmar as a young Vietnam,” said Manuel Sanchez, USGC regional director for Southeast Asia. “Although smaller than Vietnam, the fundamentals for growth exist and we need to keep the doors open for U.S. corn and DDGS.”
According to USGC, Myanmar is currently a net corn exporting country, sending grain primarily to China. However, domestic feed consumption is growing along with the country’s poultry and swine industries. Myanmar also has started importing U.S. DDGS, and the council is optimistic these sales represent the beginning of a new and robust market for U.S. farmers.
“Being present in the market and aware of technical deadlines are essential,” Sanchez said. “Addressing these potential barriers proactively ensures that U.S. exporters can participate in future growth opportunities in Myanmar.”
This new development in trade goes along with Myanmar’s and International Finance Corp. (IFC) partnership to help food producers address and improve food safety practices, develop the country’s agribusiness, and open new export markets.
As a first step, IFC — in cooperation with the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) — organized a first of its kind public awareness event in Yangon. The event, which brought together more than 60 government representatives, leading food producers, retailers and industry experts, underlined that addressing food safety in a systemic and sustainable way has a clear business case, helping companies to increase sales, reduce costs and minimize risks.