Southeast Asian exporters suffer as China locks down borders

Exporters from Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam are in trouble after China recently shut down its borders to prevent the spread of Covid-19. China has placed tight restrictions on its borders and ports to block Covid-19 from entering the country, after several small towns on its periphery suffered outbreaks over the past three months.

On Wednesday, Chinese state media reported that exports and imports of urgent cargo should be planned properly to avoid loss from waiting, although it was not immediately clear when customs, which were suspended on Tuesday, would resume.

Traders from Myanmar said that exporters are facing significant losses at the border as China once again ratchets up the restrictions, less than a month after trade restarted following a five-month closure due to Covid-19.

“Trading during Covid times is very difficult. I must get tested and must spray [the goods and trucks], causing delays. And with the changes in their customs processing system, it takes even longer,” said Sai Khin Maung, vice-chairman of the Fruit and Vegetable Commodity Exchange in northern Shan state’s Muse township.

“As for our farmers, the whole process is a mess. It took about 10 days [for their produce] to reach the other side. Delays at the Chinese customs checkpoints have led to a situation where some goods were taking up to 20 days to reach their destinations.”


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