Once one of Southeast Asia’s top rice exporters, Burma now relies most heavily on trade in natural resources, according to a list of Burma’s top 10 exporters published on Sunday in a local newspaper.
In the fiscal year 2006-07, oil and natural gas, teak, gems and copper topped Burma’s export products and comprised the majority of Burma’s total export revenue of US $5.01 billion, according Customs Department statistics reported in The Myanmar Times, a Rangoon-based weekly newspaper.
According to the report, Burma’s top three exporters for the current fiscal year are the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, the Myanmar Timber Enterprise, and the Myanmar Gems Enterprise—all government-owned organizations.
Observers in Rangoon say Burma’s exports have been dominated by state-owned companies working jointly with foreign companies such as Thailand’s PTTEP, the French company Total Oil, Daewoo International in South Korea and the Gas Authority of India Ltd.
Revenue from gas and oil exports alone accounted for $2.16 billion of Burma’s total export earnings over the last year.
The second-highest revenues came from teak exports. In addition to the Myanmar Timber Enterprise, the privately-owned Htoo Trading Company earned $65.1 million from teak exports, making it fifth among the top ten exporters. The company is owned by the controversial tycoon Tay Za, who enjoys a close relationship to junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe.
The report also included statistics on Burma’s top importers. At number ten on the list is the US embassy in Rangoon, which imported some $20.9 million in materials for the construction of its new embassy compound.
Critics of Burma’s military government say the junta has increased its control of state finances and are earning more hard currency than ever before following the discovery of lucrative offshore gas deposits, increased logging and mining.