13 September 2021, Maungdaw
If the Maungdaw border trade camp in Arakan State is not reopened, it will have a long-term impact on businesses, according to border trade stakeholders.
U Aung Myint Thein, chairman of the Maungdaw Border Trade Association, said the closure of the Maungdaw border trade camp due to the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting businesses and workers who are directly dependent on these businesses.
“The flow of trade [affects] everyone. This is a consequence of the impact on trade in one place. It may be difficult at the moment, but in the long run it may become more difficult,” he said.
The Maungdaw border trade camp was temporarily closed during the second wave of Covid-19 and trading restarted on April 12, 2021. But just over three months later, on July 15, 2021, the border trade camp was shut down again due to the third wave of Covid-19.
The Maungdaw border trade camp employs more than 130 cargo workers and is currently closed, leaving more than 900 people dependent on the trading camp struggling to make ends meet.
The Maungdaw border trade camp will reportedly be reopened only after the Arakan State Administration Council submits a communique to the Union-level, military-led State Administration Council (SAC) for approval.
“It is learnt that the Arakan State government has submitted plans to reopen the Maungdaw border trade camp to the Union government. If reopened, the local government will be able to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control and allow trade to flow,” U Aung Myint Thein said.
The Maungdaw border trade camp is an important trading facility for Arakan State, earning an average of more than $10 million a month. According to the Maungdaw Border Trade Association, with the trade camp’s closure for more than 10 months in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, losses were estimated at about $100 million.
Goods such as onion, ginger, fish and household items are exported to Bangladesh via the Maungdaw border trade camp in Arakan State.