YU WAI 22 MAR 2019
China has suspended the import of broken rice from Myanmar since the third week of March, according to local rice traders. 
“Some traders have been exporting rice under the broken rice category but officially, only rice is tradable at the Myanmar-China border. So, the Chinese authorities have cracked down on all broken rice and suspended trade,” said U Nay Lin Zin, secretary of Myanmar Rice Miller Association.
“Rumours had been spreading that Myanmar rice exports to China were suspended but actually, rice export permits can be classified into broken rice permits, long-grain rice permits and short grain rice permits,” he added.
Notably, export tax rates are 5 percent on broken rice while the rates for rice exports are 50pc to 60 pc, traders said.
As the tax rate for rice exports to China is very high, many merchants export illegally to avoid paying the tax. Currently, broken rice exports have been suspended, said rice merchants.
“Right now, China is restricting illegal exports of rice. We can still export rice but this must be under the right permits. For example, long-grain rice permits are for the exports of long-grain rice only, and not other classifications,” said U Myo Thura Aye, rice merchant.
In Myanmar, Ae Ma Hta rice is recognised as long grain rice and Paw San rice is considered a short grain rice. It can be categorised depending on the shape of grain. 
The suspension comes amid demands for China to raise its official rice import quota from Myanmar to 400,000 tonnes annually from 100,000 tonnes currently.
According to data from the Ministry of Commerce, over 50 percent of Myanmar-produced rice is sold to China via the border.
Myanmar exported 1.7 million tonnes of rice and broken rice worth US$ 578 million between April and December last year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.  Around 52pc was exported by sea, while the rest was sold at the border to China. 
At those levels, rice exports have decreased by over a third from 2.5 million tonnes worth US$780 million in the same period the year before. The main reason for the recent fall in exports is lower demand from China.