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Trade Ministry suspended car import in reaction to year-end onslaught
As a reaction to a flood of individuals who are prepared to buy limited scale cars in the hopes of being sold at excessive price next year, the Ministry of Commerce has abandoned almost all car importation, Union Minister U Than Myint said. The new 2017 importpolicy, published on 30 November, will limit vehicle purchases to newer left-hand driven vehicles.
Anyone swapping an old car can already start in 2011 to buy a car for their own use, while those who buy an old car without paying a tax can only buy a car from 2015. Importers of lorries, busses and other automobiles may introduce older types, but all types of automobiles must be left-handled.
Individuals' own regulations on imports triggered a mix of rage and consensus throughout the automotive world. There are those who say that this limitation will make automobiles much more costly because it puts an end to the habit of purchasing used Japanese automobiles - which are right-hand-drivers - and urges consumers to buy newer ones. Some say that the prohibition of right-hand driving in Myanmar, where drivers on the right will help salvage life and help gradually substitute the ocean of aging used car on the country's highways.
Irrespective of where you stand, the new policies have provided a clear chance on the markets. The majority of enquiries concern the imports of used vehicles from Japan, which have inundated Myanmar's streets in the years since the first easing of the country's purchasing policies. A car importing company that asked to stay anonimous said that the new policies had established a flourishing illegal trade for individuals who wanted to lease their country card to persons who wanted to get as many licences as possible.
On 13 December, the Department was obliged to announce that potential exporters must submit an application under their own name and may not use other people's IDs. Under the old directive, Nay Pyi Taw car importer can still deliver in vehicles, but they must already have opened a banking for this.
If you want to buy a car from abroad, you need an Myanmar state banking institution, and U Than Myint said the department had applied for the state not to open new car buying stations. "He said, "If they already have a banking relationship, they can use right and left-hand drivers until 23 December.
"Afterwards, all importer may only buy left-hand drive cars. He said the primary cause the government introduced the prohibition prematurely was to stop the influx of foreigners in order to further weaken the country against the US currency. As all car exports are in US Dollars, the wave of car exports represented an increase in US-Dollars demand in the domestic economies, with the country already near a low all-time high.
Over the past few month, the Ministry of Commerce has been looking to limit right-hand driving in order to increase traffic security and cut back on traffic deaths. Many say that old right-hand drivers will still be an important asset in this area. Than Myint said it was no simple matter to get politics right.