Remarks as prepared for USAID Mission Director Aler Grubbs for the virtual soft launch of the Ministry of Commerce’s TradeNet 2.0 website
November 12, 2020
Congratulations on your election. It is an important step in Myanmar’s democratic journey, which will be charted by the people of Myanmar. The U.S. Government remains a decades-long friend and partner to the Myanmar people as you work towards a more democratic, peaceful, and prosperous future.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances requiring rapid adaptation by governments, businesses, and individuals. First among these has been the need to reduce interpersonal contact, and therefore improve service provision on the internet. That is why we are here today.
Moving to internet-based document processing is important for the exporting and importing of goods to keep the economy running, prevent shortages, and supply consumers. Currently, a trader or business must physically deliver hard-copy documents to government ministries to apply for and be granted their registration and license to trade. The government must physically deliver the hard-copy license to the trader or business.
We recognize the time and effort required under normal circumstances is substantial, and now the pandemic has made this process much more difficult. Automating and streamlining trade registration and licensing processes will help to facilitate and reduce the costs for trading in Myanmar. This helps producers and farmers export their products for better prices, and helps consumers gain access to imported products at lower prices.
The United States supports inclusive growth for the people of Myanmar, and developing a digital system for businesses to apply for trade registration and licenses is an important part of that. The United States Government and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recognizes the work of the Ministry of Commerce in developing a new, fully integrated digital system where traders can electronically submit all materials needed to apply for trade registration and licenses, and pay fees online. The new system will help ensure applications for trade registration and licenses are quickly processed through internal government review and approved electronically. The Ministry will then deliver e-licenses back to the traders electronically. USAID has worked closely with the Ministry to support these system upgrades.
Today the Ministry of Commerce will announce the first step in this process – the electronic submission for trade registrations. This is the key first step for nearly 3,500 import and export traders. On October 28, around 250 traders attended a virtual information session by the Ministry on this new system. The live stream of the training reached even wider audiences. There will be another virtual information session on November 20.
We are excited to hear today about the Ministry’s initial step and how this approach will work towards a fully automated and streamlined system for trade licensing. We appreciate and applaud these efforts by the Ministry of Commerce. Your sessions ensure businesses and the public are well informed of progress, helping to improve transparency and accountability. We will continue to provide partnership and support. This will include on-going training to make sure the new systems can be applied effectively.
We also congratulate the Ministry of Commerce on the recently announced reductions in the number of products requiring import licenses. The United States Government is strongly supportive of further reductions in the use of trade licensing for exports and imports.
I will close by repeating that the United States Government strongly supports the Ministry of Commerce’s work to facilitate and automate exporting and importing. It is an important response to the demands from the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, facilitating trade licensing online is the best way forward as Myanmar’s economy continues to grow and integrate into the regional and international economies, including the United States.