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Border Trade with China

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Title: Myanmar's Cross-border Trade with China: Beyond Informal Trade
Date of publication: December 2016
Description/subject: "Myanmar's trade with China is heavily concentrated in cross-border trade through the Yunnan province of China. In this qualitative analysis, we examine factors that yield such a concentration from the viewpoint that trade would be concentrated in the channel where transaction costs are relatively low compared with those in other channels. It is almost certain that weak law enforcement at the border gives rise to informal cross-border trade, which allows traders to save the time and costs for compliance with formal procedures. Apart from informality, unique institutional arrangements have been emerging spontaneously in the border area that can reduce transaction costs in a way compatible with formal trade, thus augmenting cross-border trade. Based on observations of thriving trade at Myanmar's border with China, we draw implications for the country's general trade facilitation measures..."
Author/creator: KUBO Koji
Language: English
Source/publisher: IDE-JETRO Discussion paper No. 625
Format/size: pdf (238K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ide.go.jp/English/Publish/Download/Dp/625.html
Date of entry/update: 06 April 2018

Title: ORGANISED CHAOS The illicit overland timber trade between Myanmar and China
Date of publication: September 2015
Description/subject: "The sweep led to the arrest of 155 Chinese nationals who had been recruited from neighbouring Yunnan Province to cross the border to cut trees and transport timber. The case caused diplomatic tensions between Myanmar and China when the Chinese labourers were given life sentences in July. Just a few days later, all were freed under a general presidential pardon. The saga has shone a light on the murky and clandestine trade in illicit timber occurring across the common border between Myanmar and China. For at least two decades, timber extracted from Myanmar’s precious frontier forests in highly destructive logging operations has been flowing into China unhindered. It is an illicit business worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year, making it one of the single largest bilateral flows of illegal timber in the world..."
Language: English
Format/size: pdf (1.1MB)
Alternate URLs: https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/EIA-Organised-Chaos-FINAL-lr1.pdf
Date of entry/update: 20 October 2018

Title: The other China boom - China's youth are driving a booming trade in recreational drugs, turning neighbouring Myanmar into a meth lab (video)
Date of publication: 03 January 2014
Description/subject: "China's youth are driving a booming trade in recreational drugs, turning neighbouring Myanmar into a meth lab. In a hidden corner of Asia, where two dramatically different and rapidly changing nations collide, a disturbing trade is taking hold that is endangering lives around the world. With money to burn, China's non-stop party people are turning to drugs in unprecedented numbers, turning neighbouring Myanmar into a meth lab and driving a resuscitation of the bad old days of big-time trade in the Golden Triangle's devastating narcotic heroin. The epic size and industrial scale of the new Asian drug supply is staggering. Intercepts of the methamphetamine Ice or the ingredients necessary for its manufacture are toted up in tonnages. But given authorities only manage to uncover a fraction of the trade that begins in Myanmar, and pours into China, a deadly dangerous drug is in overwhelming flood. Heroin and other dangerous drug traffic are tearing out of a newly unshackled Myanmar and into booming, cashed-up China, infecting towns and big cities that have not experienced a rampant, deadly drug culture before. Beyond China, narcotics and amphetamines are streaming out to western markets. Connect with 101 East Reporter Stephen McDonell takes us right into the heart of the tear-away trade, on patrol with China's drug police struggling against the tide of illicit drugs often carried by poor Myanmar mules prepared to risk everything for a couple of hundred dollars..."
Author/creator: Stephen McDonell
Language: English
Source/publisher: Al Jazeera (101 East)
Format/size: html, Adobe Flash (25 minutes")
Date of entry/update: 04 January 2014

Title: De Kunming a Mandalay: la nouvelle "Route de Birmanie"
Date of publication: March 2010
Description/subject: Développement des échanges commerciaux le long de la frontière sino-birmane depuis 1988... "Ce papier analyse les relations sino-birmanes et cherche à rendre compte de la vitalité et de la complexité des relations commerciales frontalières. Pour cela trois niveaux de réflexions doivent être mis en regard. Tout d'abord, l'engouement pour les échanges commerciaux est mis en perspectives avec les objectifs stratégiques plus larges de chacun des deux pays. Les relations bilatérales sont motivées par des intérêts économiques et sécuritaires tels que la sécurité énergétique, l'approvisionnement en matières premières, la coopération en faveur d'un développement régional ou encore le désenclavement des provinces de l'intérieur. Ensuite, il est essentiel de décrire la situation politique et la composition de la population dans les régions frontalières afin de comprendre la relative fluidité des biens, mais aussi des personnes dans ces régions. La seconde partie de cet article dressera donc un tableau détaillé des zones frontalières sino-birmanes. Enfin, dans une dernière partie, nous soulignerons le rôle important joué par la population d'origine chinoise en Birmanie (même s'il ne s'agit pas des seuls acteurs des échanges commerciaux). Aujourd'hui, le renouveau de l'identité chinoise et des communautés chinoises est à la fois un facteur et le résultat du rapide développement des échanges bilatéraux."
Author/creator: Abel TOURNIER, Hélène LE BAIL
Language: Francais, French
Source/publisher: IFRI, Asie.Visions 25
Format/size: pdf (1.1MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ifri.org
Date of entry/update: 16 March 2010

Title: From Kunming to Mandalay: The new "Burma Road"
Date of publication: March 2010
Description/subject: Conclusion: "Since the legalization of Sino-Myanmar border trade in 1988, flows of goods and persons have developed tremendously along the long frontier shared by these two countries. Reliable figures on bilateral trade, and to an even greater extent on migration, are scarce and contested. What is sure is that these exchanges are having deep consequences on both Yunnan and Myanmar. Some Chinese industries and workers, for example in mining, logging or jade trading, are dependent on access to primary resources across the border. A number of transnational issues affecting Yunnan province, such as drug trafficking and the spread of HIV/AIDS, have their roots in the Myanmar socio-political situation. With the planned completion of CNPC oil and gas pipelines in 2013, the strategic importance of the border will be further raised for China. Thus, China is expecting the upcoming legislative elections to bring about increased stability and development in Myanmar and the border areas while it tries to use its limited leverage to make that happen. China's relationship with Myanmar is often seen as unbalanced, with the former having the upper hand and being the only one benefiting from the relationship. As stated above, Chinese influence and presence in Myanmar is not only limited, it is also creating economic opportunities for Myanmar citizens, be they of Chinese descent or not. In fact, it is not on the border but at the central level that the problems created by Myanmar relations with China must be addressed. First, deep economic reforms are needed for Myanmar to move away from its overreliance on the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources to an improvement of agricultural, industrial and trade policies. Second, benefits stemming from ongoing projects between the Myanmar government and Chinese companies should be better shared with a Myanmar population that direly needs better health and education services."
Author/creator: Abel TOURNIER, Hélène LE BAIL
Language: English
Source/publisher: IFRI, Asie.Visions 25
Format/size: pdf (1MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ifri.org
Date of entry/update: 16 March 2010

Title: The Yunnan Connection
Date of publication: September 2009
Description/subject: Closer ties between Burma and China's southwestern province raise concerns in Beijing... Yunnan, China's southwestern province bordering Burma, has always taken the lead in forging closer relations with its neighbor, usually with Beijing's blessing. But in recent years, this special relationship has caused some irritation among China's political leaders in the north...The Yunnan authorities understand that protecting the growing trade with their neighbor is extremely important to the province's long-term economic future. The provincial government recently drew up detailed plans to further promote border trade with Burma. This has included favorable customs and visa procedures, and streamlined bureaucracy. But there are fears that because of the low level of trade, there may be central government interference in the future...While Beijing may not be concerned about the official trade between the province and Burma, the central government there is more concerned about the unofficial and illegal trade that is taking place, in the form of drugs, timber, wildlife and human trafficking..."
Author/creator: Larry jagan
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 17, No. 6
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 26 December 2009

Title: Where Money Grows on Trees
Date of publication: August 2007
Description/subject: Getting to the roots of Burma’s latest timber export trade... They had been rooted in Burma’s soil for many years, some of them for more than a century. Then the heavy excavation machinery moved in—and the trees moved out, across the border to China. Some Burmese nature lovers say the trees will be homesick, but for Burmese and Chinese entrepreneurs they just represent money. Lots of money..."
Author/creator: Khun Sam
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol 15, No. 8
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 02 May 2008

Title: A Choice for China: Ending the destruction of Burma's frontier forests
Date of publication: 18 October 2005
Description/subject: (Press release): "... Ending the destruction of Burma’s northern frontier forests" , details shocking new evidence of the massive illicit plunder of Burma’s forests by Chinese logging companies. Much of the logging takes place in forests that form part of an area said to be “very possibly the most bio-diverse, rich, temperate area on earth.” In 2004, more than 1 million cubic meters of timber, about 95% of Burma’s total timber exports to China were illegally exported from northern Burma to Yunnan Province. This trade, amounting to a $250 million loss for the Burmese people, every year, takes place with the full knowledge of the Burmese regime, the government in Beijing and the rest of the international community. Chinese companies, local Chinese authorities, regional Tatmadaw and ethnic ceasefire groups are all directly involved. “On average, one log truck, carrying about 15 tonnes of timber, logged illegally in Burma, crosses an official Chinese checkpoint every seven minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; yet they do nothing.” Said Jon Buckrell of Global Witness. In September 2001 the government of the People’s Republic of China made a commitment to strengthen bilateral collaboration to address violations of forest law and forest crime, including illegal logging and associated illegal trade. However, since then, illegal imports of timber across the Burma-China border have actually increased by 60%. “A few Chinese businessmen, backed by the authorities in Yunnan Province, are completely undermining Chinese government initiatives to combat illegal logging. Not only are the activities of these loggers jeopardising the prospect of sustainable development in northern Burma they are also breaking Chinese law.” Said Buckrell."... Download as Word (english 2.0 Mb) | PDF (english - low resolution 6.9 Mb) | PDF (english - low resolution - part 1 1.6 Mb) | PDF (english - low resolution - part 2 1.5 Mb) | PDF (english - low resolution - part 3 1.2 Mb) | Word (chinese 2.5 Mb) | PDF (chinese - low resolution 7.8 Mb) | PDF (chinese - low resolution - part 1 4.0 Mb) | PDF (chinese - low resolution - part 2 2.9 Mb) | PDF (chinese - appendices 2.1 Mb) | Word (burmese - press release 47 Kb) | Word (chinese - press release 29 Kb) | Word (burmese - executive summary 51 Kb) In September 2004 EU member states called for the European Commission to produce “Â…specific proposals to address the issue of Burmese illegal loggingÂ…” Later, in October, the European Council expressed support for the development of programmes to address, “the problem of non-sustainable, excessive logging” that resulted in deforestation in Burma. To date, the EU has done next to nothing. “Like China, the EU has so far failed the Burmese people. How many more livelihoods will be destroyed before the Commission and EU member states get their act together?” Asked Buckrell. It is essential that the Chinese government stops timber imports across the Burma-China border, with immediate effect, and until such time sufficient safeguards are in place that can guarantee legality of the timber supply. The Chinese authorities should also take action against companies and officials involved in the illegal trade. Global Witness is calling for the establishment of a working group to facilitate measures to combat illegal logging, to ensure equitable, transparent and sustainable forest management, and to promote long-term development in northern Burma. “It is vitally important that all stakeholders work together to end the rampant destruction of Burma’s forests and to ensure that the necessary aid and long-term investment reach this impoverished region.” Said Jon Buckrell.
Language: Burmese, Chinese, English,
Source/publisher: Global Witness
Format/size: pdf, Word
Alternate URLs: http://globalwitness.org
Date of entry/update: 18 October 2005

Title: An Overview of the Market Chain for China's Timber Product Imports from Myanmar
Date of publication: 2005
Description/subject: This article on China's forest trade with Myanmar builds on an earlier study by the same authors: “Navigating the Border: An Analysis of the China-Myanmar Timber Trade” [link]. The analysis in this study moves on to identify priority issues along the market chain of the timber trade from the Yunnan-Myanmar border to Guangdong Province and Shanghai on China’s eastern seaboard. Give the increased intensity of logging in northern Myanmar after the introduction of stringent limits on domestic timber production in China in 1998, the authors argue it is now downstream buyers on China’s eastern seaboard who are driving the timber business along the Yunnan Myanmar border. While the boom in the timber business has provided income generating opportunities for many, from villagers in Myanmar to Chinese migrant businessmen, forests that can be cost-effectively harvested in Myanmar along its border with Yunnan are in increasingly short supply. This entails a need to explore priority areas such as transitioning border residents away from a reliance on the timber industry, assessing and mitigating the cross-border ecological damage from logging in Kachin and Shan States, and developing a more sustainable supply of timber in Yunnan through improving state plantations and collective forest management.
Author/creator: Fredrich Kahrl, Horst Weyerhaeuser, Su Yufang
Language: English
Source/publisher: Forest Trends, Center for International Forestry Research, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
Format/size: pdf (1.05 MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.forest-trends.org/documents/files/doc_152.pdf
Date of entry/update: 18 August 2010

Title: Navigating the Border: An Analysis of the China-Myanmar Timber Trade
Date of publication: 2004
Description/subject: Summary: China’s trade in timber products with Myanmar grew substantially from 1997-2002, from 295,474 m3 (round wood equivalent, RWE) in 1997 to 947,765 m3 (RWE) in 2002. Despite increased volume, timber product imports from Myanmar comprised only 2.5% of China’s total timber product imports from 1997-2002. However, the small fraction of total imports masks two important features: i) timber imports from Myanmar are primarily logged in slow-growing natural forests in northern Myanmar; and ii) logging activities that support the China-Myanmar timber trade are increasingly concentrated along the border in northern Myanmar’s Kachin State. This greater concentration of the timber trade has begun to have substantial ecological and socio-economic impacts within China’s borders. The majority of China’s timber product imports from Myanmar are shipped overland through neighboring Yunnan Province – 88% of all imports from 1997-2002 according to China’s national customs statistics. Of these, more than 75% of timber product inflows passed through the three prefectures in northwest Yunnan that border Kachin State. Most of these logging activities are currently concentrated in three areas — Pianma Township (Nujiang Prefecture), Yingjiang County (Dehong Prefecture), and Diantan Township (Baoshan Municipality). Logging that sustains the timber industry along Yunnan’s border with Kachin State is done by Chinese companies that are operating in Myanmar but are based along the border in China. Logging activities in Kachin State, from actual harvesting to road building, are almost all carried out by Chinese citizens. Although the volume of China’s timber product imports from Myanmar is small by comparison, the scale of logging along the border is considerable, and border townships and counties have become over-reliant on the timber trade as a primary means of fiscal revenue. As the costs of logging in Myanmar rise, this situation is increasingly becoming economically unsustainable, and shifts in the timber industry will have significant implications for the future of Yunnan’s border region. Importantly, a large proportion of logging and timber processing along the border is both managed and manned by migrant workers. Because of companies’ and workers’ low level of embeddedness in the local economy, border village communities are particularly vulnerable to swings in the timber trade. More broadly, timber trade has done little to promote sustained economic growth along the China-Myanmar border as profits, by and large, have not been redirected into local economies. In addition to socio-economic pressures, the combination of insufficient regulation in China and political instability in northern Myanmar has exacted a high ecological price. The uncertain regulatory and contractual environment has oriented the border logging industry toward short-term harvesting and profits, rather than investments in longer-term timber production. Degradation in Myanmar’s border forests will have an impact on China’s forests, as wildlife, pest and disease management, forest fire prevention and containment, and controlling natural disasters caused by soil erosion all become increasingly difficult. While political reform in northern Myanmar is a precondition for improved regulation and management of Myanmar’s forests, the Chinese government has a series of economic, trade, security and environmental policy options that it could pursue to ensure its own ecological security and enhance the socio-economic benefits of trade. Potential avenues explored in this analysis include: i) promoting longer-term border trade and distributing benefits from the timber trade, ii) improving border control and industry regulation, iii) enhancing environmental security and strengthening environmental cooperation, and iv) exploring flexibility in the logging ban... TABLE OF CONTENTS: LOGGING IN MYANMAR: A BACKGROUND; MYANMAR’S FORESTS; BASIC TRADE; GEOGRAPHY; AN ANALYSIS OF AGGREGATE IMPORT STATISTICS, 1997-2002; THE LOGGING BAN IN YUNNAN; THE TIMBER PRODUCTION CHAIN: INTRODUCTION; THE TIMBER PRODUCTION CHAIN: EXTRACTION; THE TIMBER PRODUCTION CHAIN: PROCESSING; THE TIMBER PRODUCTION CHAIN: DISTRIBUTION AND EXPORT; TIMBER TRADE TRENDS BY PREFECTURE; BORDER AND TRADE ADMINISTRATION: CHINA; FOREST AND TRADE ADMINISTRATION: MYANMAR; DEVELOPMENTS WITH POTENTIAL IMPLICATIONS FOR THE CHINA-MYANMAR TIMBER TRADE; CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS; REFERENCES.
Author/creator: Fredrich Kahrl, Horst Weyerhaeuser, Su Yufang
Language: English
Source/publisher: Forest Trends, World Agroforestry Centre
Format/size: pdf (1.28MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.forest-trends.org/documents/files/doc_120.pdf
Date of entry/update: 18 August 2010

Title: A CONFLICT OF INTERESTS: The uncertain future of Burma’s forests
Date of publication: October 2003
Description/subject: A Briefing Document by Global Witness. October 2003... Table of Contents... Recommendations... Introduction... Summary: Natural Resources and Conflict in Burma; SLORC/SPDC-controlled logging; China-Burma relations and logging in Kachin State; Thailand-Burma relations and logging in Karen State... Part One: Background: The Roots of Conflict; Strategic location, topography and natural resources; The Peoples of Burma; Ethnic diversity and politics; British Colonial Rule... Independence and the Perpetuation of Conflict: Conflict following Independence and rise of Ne Win; Burma under the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP); The Four Cuts counter – insurgency campaign; The 1988 uprising and the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC); The 1990 General Election and the drafting of a new Constitution; Recent Developments: The Detention of Aung San Suu Kyi... The Administration of Burma: Where Power Lies: The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC); The Cabinet; The Three Generals; The Tatmadaw; Regional Commanders... Part Two: Logging in Burma:- The Economy: The importance of the timber trade; Involvement of the Army; Bartering; Burma’s Forests; Forest cover, deforestation rates and forest degradation... The Timber Industry in Burma: The Administration of forestry in Burma; Forest Management in Burma, the theory; The Reality of the SPDC-Controlled Timber Trade... Law enforcement: The decline of the Burma Selection System and Institutional Problems; Import – Export Figures; SPDC-controlled logging in Central Burma; The Pegu Yomas; The illegal timber trade in Rangoon; SLORC/SPDC control over logging in ceasefire areas... Ceasefires: Chart of armed ethnic groups. April 2002; Ceasefire groups; How the SLORC/SPDC has used the ceasefires: business and development... Conflict Timber: Logging and the Tatmadaw; Logging as a driver of conflict; Logging companies and conflict on the Thai-Burma border; Controlling ceasefire groups through logging deals... Forced Labour: Forced labour logging... Opium and Logging: Logging and Opium in Kachin State; Logging and Opium in Wa... Conflict on the border: Conflict on the border; Thai-Burmese relations and ‘Resource Diplomacy’; Thais prioritise logging interests over support for ethnic insurgents; The timber business and conflict on the Thai-Burma border; Thai Logging in Karen National Union territory; The end of SLORC logging concessions on the Thai border; The Salween Scandal in Thailand; Recent Logging on the Thai-Burma border... Karen State: The Nature of Conflict in Karen State; The Karen National Union (KNU); The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA); Logging in Karen State; Logging and Landmines in Karen State; Charcoal Making in Nyaunglebin District... The China-Burma Border: Chinese-Burmese Relations; Chinese-Burmese relations and Natural Resource Colonialism; The impact of logging in China; The impact of China’s logging ban; The timber trade on the Chinese side of the border... Kachin State: The Nature of Conflict in Kachin State; The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO); Jade and the KIA’s insurgent Economy; Dabak and Mali Hydroelectric Power Projects; The New Democratic Army (Kachin) (NDA(K)); The Kachin Defence Army (KDA); How the ceasefires have affected insurgent groups in Kachin State; HIV/AIDS and Extractive Industries in Kachin State ; Logging in Kachin State; Gold Mining in Kachin State; The N’Mai Hku (Headwaters) Project; Road Building in Kachin State... Wa State: Logging in Wa State; Timber Exports through Wa State; Road building in Wa State; Plantations in Wa State... Conclusion... Appendix I: Forest Policies, Laws and Regulations; National Policy, Laws and Regulations; National Commission on Environmental Affairs; Environmental policy; Forest Policy; Community Forestry; International Environmental Commitments... Appendix II: Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG): Ministerial Declaration... References. [the pdf version contains the text plus maps, photos etc. The Word version contains text and tables only]
Language: English (Thai & Kachin summaries)
Source/publisher: Global Witness
Format/size: pdf (4 files: 1.8MB, 1.4MB, 2.0MB, 2.1MB) 126 pages
Alternate URLs: http://www.globalwitness.org
Date of entry/update: 20 July 2010