Myanmar is seeking to turn the Chinshwehaw border gate with China into an international entry point, Minister of Labor, Immigration and Population U Thein Swe was quoted by the official Global New Light of Myanmar as saying Monday.
Having good potential in trade and tourism, Chinshwehaw in Myanmar’s northeastern Shan state represents the second largest border crossing with China after Muse with a total of eight border gates.
Local merchants have called on the government to allow the cross-border tourists to come in and leave using visas, passports and other required documents, predicting that border trade will soar if Chinshwehaw is recognized as an international point of entry.
Border trade through Chinshwehaw has sharply risen since fiscal year 2013-14, with the amount reaching US$537 million in fiscal year 2016-17.In fiscal year 2017-18, Chinshwehaw expects to see over $640 million in border trade.
Myanmar mainly exports pulses, corns, sesame, rice, rubber, fisheries, sugar and sugarcane to China, while importing from China fertilizer, construction materials and consumer goods.
According to statistics of the Ministry of Commerce, bilateral trade between Myanmar and China stood at $10.7 billion in fiscal year 2016-17.
In the first half of fiscal year 2017-18, bilateral trade reached over $5.5 billion, with Myanmar’s exports to China standing at $2.46 billion and its imports at $3 billion.
Regarding tourism, China was already Myanmar second largest source market back to 2016 with a total of 184,000 Chinese visitors, following a total of almost 148,000 travellers in 2015. China was one of the few inbound markets to record a growth in 2016.
Myanmar is shifting its tourism focus towards China and South-East Asia markets after Western and European tourist inflow witnessed a decline due to tensions in the northern Rakhine State and the humanitarian crisis with the Rohyinga Muslim minority.
The government is now looking to provide Visa on Arrivals as well as allowing the passing through land borders for Chinese travellers on a long stay. Many Chinese travellers feel however deterred by Myanmar entry regulations.
A total of 2.81 million international travellers visited Myanmar as of end October. This represents a 20 percent increase compared with the same period last year. Some 1.07 million visitors came with visa through international gateways, while 1.74 million passed through border gates as day return-travelkers.