Myanmar banns local possession of foreign currency ミャンマー、外貨の保有を禁止

This is an edited version of an article in Asia Times. This new policy is directly affecting our partners in Myanmar.
短く編集したAsia Timesの記事とその和訳をご紹介します。今回の措置は、ミャンマー在住のハートシップの協力者たちの生活にも影響を与えています。

New measures banning local possession of foreign currency threatens foreign investors and citizens  外国人投資家や国民を脅かす新たな措置

On April 3, Myanmar’s central bank issued a directive requiring all Myanmar citizens to change their foreign currency from overseas into Myanmar kyats at state-licensed banks. US dollars must be changed at a rate of 1,850 kyats, which is lower than the prevailing market rate of 2,015 kyats. Furthermore, the banks only allow a very limited amount of withdrawal per week, which makes many businesses impossible to run.


The foreign investment community is understandably up in arms over the surprise and draconian order.


On April 4, the Japanese Embassy sent a letter to the junta saying “Japanese companies operating in Myanmar will face serious challenges in following the new regulation, which will cause difficulties in continuing their businesses in the country. It will also be detrimental to the function of the Embassy of Japan and other official organizations.”


Two days later, the Singaporean Embassy issued an almost identical statement. Both embassies requested exemptions for companies from their respective countries, which are among Myanmar’s top providers of foreign investment.


On April 8, a dozen business groups — among them the French Myanmar Chamber of Commerce, AustCham Myanmar, EuroCham Myanmar, the British Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar, and the German Myanmar Business Chamber — issued a joint statement saying that the new foreign currency rule “needlessly lowers the living standards of the Myanmar people, halts foreign business activity, stops the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI), and creates trade tensions with other countries.”

4月8日には、フランス・ミャンマー商工会議所、AustCham Myanmar、EuroCham Myanmar、在ミャンマー英国商工会議所、ドイツ・ミャンマービジネス会議所など12の経済団体が共同声明を発表し、新しい外貨ルールは「ミャンマー人の生活水準を不必要に下げ、外国企業の活動を止め、外国直接投資(FDI)を止め、他国との貿易摩擦を引き起こす」と指摘した。

Photo: AFP / Roberto Schmidt

Analysts and observers believe there are a few reasons behind what many see as a desperate move to gain access to foreign currency at a time the local economy has nearly collapsed due to the military’s February 2021 coup and the nationwide unrest that has followed.


The first and most obvious motivation stems from the fact the junta has nearly depleted its foreign reserves and desperately needs a way to earn, or in this instance, take foreign currency to avoid defaulting on foreign debts.  


Another reason may be to control money flows from foreign donors and exiled groups to anti-junta activists and civil society groups inside the country. The new measure will effectively make it illegal to hold foreign funds, making it easier for authorities to track and check transfers to such groups.


Unfortunately, the rules will  likely deter other foreign companies from investing in the country, which was already a tough sell amid the post-coup political upheavals and devastation caused by Covid-19. But Myanmar needs more, not less, foreign investment to revive the economy.


The country sliding into poverty 貧困への転落

The International Labor Organization (ILO) stated in a January 2022 report that Myanmar is on brink of economic collapse one year after the coup. Similarly, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) issued a statement in December 2021 that estimated “by early 2022, nearly half of Myanmar’s 55 million population — some 25 million people — will be living below the national poverty line. There now appears little doubt that the country’s poverty headcount is likely to return to levels not seen since 2005, effectively erasing 15 years of pre-pandemic economic growth.”


2 thought on “Myanmar banns local possession of foreign currency ミャンマー、外貨の保有を禁止”

  1. This is absolutely appalling, it aches my heart. Just to many terrible things are happening in this world.
    Which would be the best currency to donate for the people of Myanmar?

    1. The situation in Myanmar is really sad and devastating.
      Your donations via this website are automatically transferred to our Japanese bank account in JPY minus the 1.5% Donorbox platform fee. To send 100% of your donation, you can wire JPY directly to our account (details are in the donation page), but donorbox is a great platform so please choose what’s most convenient for you. We send money in JPY, and our partners in Myanmar receive it in the local currency, Myanmar kyats. Hope this information helps!

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