Business as usual: martial law won’t affect cross-border trade

Additional footage from Reuters

Residents in the Burmese border town of Myawaddy fear that the imposition of martial law in neighbouring Thailand will disrupt the flow of border trade.

In the early hours of Tuesday 20 May, Thailand’s army declared martial law in the country, in an effort to stabilise the political unrest that’s been ongoing for the past six months.

“The situation could lead to a hike in commodity prices here and transportation woes,” said one Myawaddy resident. “It could also make it difficult for migrants across the border to send money back home.”

Following a coup in 2006, Thailand’s military shut down the country’s border checkpoints, which halted the inflow of Thai commodities in Myawaddy town, leading to a price hike.

Myawaddy residents are worried the same could happen again, although the Thai army have denied they are staging a coup.

As of yesterday, Thai commodity prices in Maywaddy were yet to change.

Thin Thin Myat, chairperson for Myawaddy Traders Association, reassured residents by saying that the events in Thailand would not affect cross-border trade.

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“The Thai military is not staging a coup but only stepping in to restore order. As this is the case, there won’t be any impacts on the border bridge. The likely impact is that people will worry about the trade flow and so may wait to transfer money across the border,” she said.

The current political crisis in Thailand began in November 2013 when anti-government protestors, led by a former deputy prime minister, Suthep Thaugsuban, hit the streets to protest a series of bills and rulings by prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and to call for her resignation.

Burmese migrants living in Thailand have been affected by the drop in value of Thai currency due to the political unrest, when sending remittances back to their families in Burma.

Meanwhile, life for most citizens in the Thai capital Bangkok and other cities carries on as usual, despite being subject to martial law.

 

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