Myanmar requests EU not to revoke trade preference

January 21, 2019 - Myanmar

Myanmar Government officials and businesses have requested the European Union (EU) to reconsider the potential move to withdraw its generalised scheme of preferences (GSP) benefit from the country fearing negative impacts on growth and population. Both feel the move will result in high levels of unemployment resulting from migration of foreign business houses.

Aung Naing Oo, director general at the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, said the EU decision could have a big impact on Myanmar’s reforms and growth momentum as it will be tough for manufacturers to export their goods to Europe, according to a Myanmarese newspaper report.

It would slow down reforms and offer a big blow to the country’s efforts to promote foreign direct investment (FDI), he said, requesting the bloc to reconsider its planned punishment on Myanmar for alleged human right violations against ethnic people.

Zaw Min Win, president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said local businesses need trade preference to export their goods to Europe, which is the third largest export market of Myanmar. UMFCCI has also made the same appeal to EU authorities.

EU had reinstated GSP for Myanmar in 2013 to support its transition to democracy.

Following a monitoring mission’s visit to the nation in late October 2018, EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom announced a plan to consider a temporary GSP withdrawal because of the findings.

Khine Khine Nwe, joint secretary general of UMFCCI and general secretary of Myanmar Garments Manufacturers Association, visited Brussels recently to request the bloc maintain its trade privileges for Myanmar. She held discussions with EU authorities, including director generals for trade and employment.

Maung Maung, president of the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar, said more than one million workers from garment and fishery industries could be affected if the EU decides to revoke the trade preference. (DS)