Industry experts argue that new vehicle importation rules will hurt drivers of modest means

On November 30, the Ministry of Commerce announced on its site that starting from January 1, 2017, all imported cars intended for personal use must have been manufactured between 2015 and 2017. Minibuses and city buses however can date back to 2007, and express busses to 2012.

Of course, newer cars cost more money. Add in the import tax, and that price goes up even higher.

All cars must also be left-hand drive, which is another big concern. Many people in Myanmar currently use Japanese-manufactured cars that are older — and therefore cheaper — but still reliable, and that also happen to be right-hand drives.

Authorities hope that this new rule will reduce congestion and traffic in Yangon, although it will be in effect across the country. Ever since 2011 when restrictions on the mass importation of vehicles were relaxed, there has been a boom in the number of cars crowding Yangon’s streets. In July of this year, it was estimated that over 670,000 cars had been imported into the country in the past five years.

However, several car dealers and citizens feel that this latest “solution” will come at the expense of citizens who can’t afford the new, pricier cars.

“This means only rich people will be able to afford a car. This new policy will favor new Korean- and Chinese-made cars. But they’re not as good as second-hand Japanese cars. The government should let poorer people buy cars at lower prices,” U Aung Than Win, chair of the Automobile Trading Association, told the Myanmar Times.

Of course, this shouldn’t affect the 1% of citizens who can already afford vehicles such as (*cough* broken down) Lamborghinis.

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