Mekong Memo Myanmar Weekly: Business, politics, finance, trade & legal news.
Get the latest Southeast Asian business news delivered to your inbox every weekday with the Mekong Memo.
Choose to receive our free daily editions covering Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand individually or together.
Subscribe now to curate your personalized news briefing on the region's top business stories:
The Memo is published each weekday for the country of your choice. Paid subscriptions receive the full edition while free subscribers get top headlines.
The Mekong Memo is proudly presented by:
Horton International offers reliable, effective solutions to recruiting and resourcing challenges for a diverse range of organizations, from small, privately held start-ups to leading Global corporations. With offices and experience throughout Southeast Asia, Horton International is your first choice for executive search in the region. Click the logo to learn more.
Here is your Mekong Memo Myanmar for January 16, 2024. As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated.
Border Trade Plummets $100 Million Amid Conflict
Myanmar's border trade has plummeted over $100 million between April-December 2022 compared to 2021 due to conflicts and border closures with China, Thailand, Bangladesh, India and Laos. Key trade hubs like Muse, Myawaddy and Rihkhawdar face heavy impacts from military offensives and blockades, including reduced exports, spoiled shipments and higher transportation costs. The situation has prompted Myanmar's junta leader to consider reopening roads to resuscitate trade.
Read more: The Irrawaddy
Global Tin Market Waits on Key Myanmar Mine
The suspension of Myanmar's major Man Maw tin mine by the Wa State Army has minimally impacted the global tin market so far, thanks to stockpiling by Chinese smelters. With London Metal Exchange (LME) tin prices still stable, attention is on the mine's reopening to meet rising soldering demand. The International Tin Association (ITA) reports slow progress on resuming full mining operations, with surface tin stocks nearly gone and China relying more on alternate suppliers like Bolivia. Strong expected tin demand recovery in 2024 adds urgency.
Read more: Mining.com
Fragile Ceasefire Offers a Tenuous Respite
China recently brokered a tenuous ceasefire between Myanmar's military and the rebel "Three Brotherhood Alliance." The ceasefire aims to improve security around the China-Myanmar border area and bilateral economic ties, including the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. It mandates immediate halting of hostilities and troop pullback, with both sides agreeing to protect Chinese residents and projects in Myanmar. However, given the history of rapidly collapsing truces in Myanmar, observers remain uncertain if the ceasefire will hold.
India's Secret Fuel Exports to Myanmar Military
Since Myanmar's 2021 coup, India's state-owned oil company has covertly sold over $3.7 million in fuel, including $1.5 million in navy-grade diesel, to an opaque Myanmar entity known as "The Master." While tiny compared to India's $284 million Myanmar fuel exports since 2017, the sales - especially the navy diesel - have raised concerns about enabling Myanmar's sanctioned military. Despite prohibitions on military suppliers, India maintains trade ties, which makes already complex regional dynamics all the more opaque.
Read more: Frontier Myanmar
Thai and Myanmar Military Leaders Discuss Cooperation
Thailand’s military chief recently engaged in discussions with Myanmar's junta leader on potential cooperation against online gambling and scams, drug eradication, counter-terrorism, illegal trade, and stability in border areas. They also reportedly discussed humanitarian assistance and joint efforts to address forest fires and haze in border regions. The rare high-level meeting comes despite ASEAN minimizing contacts with Myanmar’s government after its 2021 coup.
Press Council Demands Journalist Releases
The Independent Press Council Myanmar (IPCM) has called for the immediate release of all journalists jailed by the military junta since the 2021 coup. With 52 currently imprisoned out of 170 arrested over 2 years, the council remains dedicated to achieving journalists' unconditional freedom. IPCM's statement specifically highlighted the case of detained filmmaker Ma Shin Daewi to showcase the nature of arbitrary arrests and emphasized that they remain committed to the safeguarding of journalistic freedom.
Read more: Narinjara