Trade between Chiang Rai in Thailand and Tachilek in Myanmar almost returned to normal on Wednesday following months of stringent COVID-19 measures that limited cross-border traffic there.
Many vans were spotted driving to warehouses in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district to pick up items, mostly commodities, food, petrol and construction materials, before heading to Tachilek.
This came the day after Myanmar authorities in Tachilek lifted restrictions on the cross-border movement of commercial vehicles at a Thai-Myanmar border checkpoint, following improvements in the COVID-19 situation.
Many commercial vehicles waited to undergo customs formalities at the checkpoint at the second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge.
Commercial vehicles are now able to travel freely across the border into Myanmar after authorities lifted restrictions imposed at the onset of COVID-19 that limited the number of commercial vehicles passing daily through the checkpoint to six vehicles per country.
Despite the lifting of the restrictions, commercial vehicles are nonetheless required to change drivers after they cross the border.
Mae Sai district chief, Prasong La-on, said the transportation of goods between the two countries has almost returned to normal. However, drivers from the origin country are not allowed to enter the destination country. A driver in the destination country is required to take charge of the vehicle once it crosses the border.
Before COVID-19, around 100 commercial vehicles used the checkpoint daily, generating a cross-border trade value of around 300-500 million baht per day.
After COVID-19, cross-border trade revenue dropped to 1.59 million baht a day after Myanmar authorities imposed its vehicle limit.