World Containers Pile Up at Myanmar Ports as Coup Protests Snarl Trade
Myanmar protesters live in fear of nighttime arrests during an internet blackout
Many citizens in Myanmar have told CNN they are terrified of being dragged from their beds in nighttime or early morning raids, which have become frequent occurrences since the military coup.By day, thousands of people across the country join vibrant demonstrations calling for the military, which seized power in a coup on February 1, to hand back power to civilian control and release ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. They defiantly bang pots and pans, beat drums, wave creative signs and march en masse through the streets. Government and factory workers have gone on strike to join a growing civil disobedience movement against the takeover.
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Thousands of striking truck drivers in Myanmar protesting the military coup have slowed delivery of imports, trapping cargo containers at ports and prompting at least one international shipping line to halt new orders.
About 100 containers a day are moving out of Yangon’s four main ports, said Myo Htut Aung, joint secretary of the Myanmar Container Trucking Association, down from an average of 800 boxes before the coup. About 90% of the city’s 4,000 container-truck drivers have halted work, he said.
Myanmar Protesters Plan Biggest Rallies Yet After Two Shot Dead
Myanmar’s anti-coup protesters plan to hold their largest mass rally yet on Monday after two demonstrators were shot dead over the weekend, with concerns growing about an economic crisis in the Southeast Asian nation. © Getty Images via Bloomberg Protesters march through the streets of Yangon on Feb. 19. Many shops and businesses were expected to close in solidarity with protesters, with the nation’s largest retailer, City Mart, announcing it will shut all of its outlets.
The situation may add to a global container shortage triggered by the pandemic as government lockdowns to curb infections limit travel and consumers buy more goods. Spot rates for transporting 40-foot boxes rose 50% on average in 2020, according to World Container Index data and Bloomberg Intelligence.
“The truckers’ protest has severely affected operations at container terminals,” said Myo Htut Aung. “If drivers don’t pick up goods, all the containers have to be kept at the ports.”
Massive protests opposing the Feb. 1 coup have persisted in defiance of a military ban on public gatherings, with hundreds of thousands of people flooding streets across the country during a nationwide strike on Monday. The coupmakers havecivil servants to get back to work, insisting they will hold a fresh election after a yearlong state of emergency. Three protesters have been killed in clashes with police so far.
Killing of protesters fuels anti-coup demonstrations in Myanmar
Three people have now been killed by security forces defending the military's takeover, but the deaths are only adding fuel to the pro-democracy movement's fire.The massive show of people power has yielded images that have gone viral on social media around the world, as peaceful demonstrators defied a foreboding warning from the military junta that seized power early this month.
Demonstrators gather during a protest in downtown Yangon on Feb. 22.
Photographer: Hkun Lat/Getty Images
German shipping line Hapag-Lloyd AGlast week that while vessel operations into and out of Myanmar ports haven’t been significantly impacted, container terminals were close to full and road transportation limited. The company temporarily suspended new import bookings into Myanmar.
Truck drivers have said they will transport essential food, medicine and fabrics for factories but only about 30% of normal container volumes are moving through Yangon’s ports via truck, said Kyaw Lwin Oo, vice chairman of the Myanmar International Freight Forwarders’ Association.
The disruptions could impact the global textile and garment industries. Myanmarmore than $1 billion in woven fabrics and sold about $2.4 billion in suits in 2019, according to the World Trade Organization. Apart from fuels, the country’s top purchases include medicines and motorbikes, which are typically shipped in containers.
Myanmar police crank up pressure on protests after envoy calls for international action
Myanmar's U.N. ambassador also declared his loyalty to the ousted civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi and called for global pressure on the military.Security forces in some areas appeared to become more aggressive in using force and making arrests, utilizing more plainclothes officers than had previously revealed themselves. Photos posted on social media showed that residents of at least two cities, Yangon and Monywa, resisted by erecting makeshift street barricades to try to hinder the advance of the police.
Myanmar’s top trade partners in 2019 were China, Thailand and Singapore, according to International Monetary Fund data compiled by Bloomberg.
Other international shipping lines are also worried about port congestion and have cut sailings to the country or halted new bookings in anticipation of further delays, according to the Myanmar International Freight Forwarders’ Association and maritime consultant Drewry.
On Tuesday, protest crowds were smaller and factories, shops and transport companies restarted activity, said Nils Haupt, a spokesman for Hapag-Lloyd. However, with many major roads still blocked by demonstrators and with some drivers still protesting, trucking availability into and out of ports remains affected, he said.
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YouTube removes channels run by Myanmar's military as violence escalates .
YouTube and TikTok are taking down problematic content in Myanmar amid a disturbing escalation of violence in the country after a military coup.YouTube has removed channels from broadcasters run by Myanmar's military following a dramatic escalation of violence in the country.