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Transformation of the Rice Marketing System and Myanmar's Transition to a Market Economy

Discussion Papers


by OKAMOTO Ikuko
December 2005


Creating a rice marketing system has been one of the central policy issues in Myanmar's move to a market economy since the end of the 1980s. Two liberalizations of rice marketing were implemented in 1987 and 2003. This paper examines the essential aspects of the liberalizations and the subsequent transformation of Myanmar's rice marketing sector. It attempts to bring into clearer focus the rationale of the government's rice marketing reforms which is to maintain a stable supply of rice at a low price to consumers. Under this rationale, however, the state rice marketing sector continued to lose efficiency while the private sector was allowed to develop on condition that it did not jeopardize the rationale of stable supply at low price. The paper concludes that the prospect for the future development of the private rice marketing sector is dim since a change in the rice market's rationale is unlikely. Private rice exporting is unlikely to be permitted, while the domestic market is approaching the saturation point. Thus, there is little momentum for the private rice sector to undertake any substantial expansion of investment.

Keywords: Myanmar, rice, marketing system, liberalization
JEL classification: P39, Q13, Q18

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