YANGON, April 2 (Reuters) - Myanmar’s trade deficit jumped 88 percent in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, driven by rapid economic expansion in the formerly military-ruled country, state media and a Commerce Ministry official said on Thursday.
Myanmar’s economy was held back by mismanagement, corruption and the refusal of Western countries to trade and invest because of human rights abuses under the military, which ruled for almost 50 years until 2011.
The semi-civilian government in office since then has implemented sweeping political and economic reforms and, in recognition, the European Union, Australia, the United States and other countries have lifted or eased sanctions, opening the door to the global economy.
Myanmar imported more than $16 billion of goods in fiscal 2014/15 and exports totalled more than $11 billion, leaving a deficit of more than $4.9 billion, the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar reported.
A senior Commerce Ministry official put the previous year’s deficit at $2.6 billion.
“It’s impossible to cut down exports with the speedily growing market economy and speedily rising living standards,” she said, requesting anonymity as she was not authorised to speak to the media.
Capital goods such as construction materials for infrastructure projects accounted for about 40 percent of imports, while fuel made up 30 percent and consumer goods 20 percent, the official said.
The government will attempt to close the deficit by spending $900 million over the next five years to boost the export capacity of domestic firms, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported. (Editing by Jared Ferrie and Alan Raybould)