Myanmar represents a major source of cattle to the Malaysia and Thailand zone. The direction of cattle movement tends to originate from the Central Myanmar Plateau (CMP), which is moving from north to south and west to east (Figure 9). Cattle transporters travel across countries delivering ‘transit’ cattle, i.e. from Myanmar to Vietnam’s border depots transiting through Thailand and Cambodia.
Myanmar has an animal movement management system that is controlled by the local authorities within the divisions and states. There are five animal quarantine stations across Myanmar for animal movement management. However, at national level, there is no uniform animal movement management and identification system. It is consequently difficult to make traceability.
Traders/ large companies must first get permission for cattle movement from the local authorities where the cattle are sourced. Then, a movement certificate (“PC3” is issued by the LBVD. They also need to obtain an export licence from the Ministry of Commerce. The cattle have to go through 21 days of quarantine and undergo veterinary inspection.
Myanmar government officially exported live cattle and buffalo to Malaysia by seaport quarantine of Rakhine State, Tanintharyi Region and Yangon Region in the year 2000 and 2010 with the number of 5400 and 2223 head, respectively. After that government stopped the exportation until now. This has a desire to maintain sufficient animals at low prices to provide smallholders’ draft power for crop production.
Informal export and import:
Cross-border price differentials and border restrictions cause an informal cross-border cattle trade between Myanmar and Thailand, and Myanmar and China. Live cattle price inside Myanmar is considerably lower than neighbouring countries leading to unofficial exports. Reportedly a cow/buffalo bought for K500,000 in the CMP could be resold in border areas at 2 to 4 times higher price. It is estimated by the LBVD that the number of cattle from Myanmar informally traded across the border was 60,000 head in 2013. However, the reported number is clearly underestimated as the data on the volume and flow of the informal export trade is by its nature difficult to collect. It is officially reported by the Office of Agricultural Economics in Thailand that in 2013, Thailand imported 204,000 cattle from Myanmar.
According LBVD officials, there was an informal movement of cattle from Bangladesh into Myanmar. It is estimated that at least 500 cattle and buffalo are being traded across the border. However, there was not reliable data to confirm this.
With regard to trade in general/ trade through all channels, there is a need to accurately predict the impact of policy changes and other changes of basic conditions on industry development. It would be interesting to analyse the impact of a liberalisation of live cattle export policies in Myanmar and impact of opening up of direct cattle exports from Australia to China on livelihoods of smallholders and other stakeholders involved in the cattle and beef sector in Myanmar.
Figure 9: Pathways of live cattle movement
Source: adapted from LBVD (2014)