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Myanmar Crisis

Myanmar blocks car, luxury imports amid foreign-currency crunch

Military seeks to balance trade by slashing nonessential purchases

Cars are seen stuck in a traffic jam in Yangon. The Myanmar government stopped issuing car import permits in October last year.    © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Myanmar has stepped up import controls by banning imports of cars and other nonessential goods as the country struggles with a severe foreign-currency shortage caused by declines in investment and assistance from overseas.

Myanmar athletes who competed in the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam in May were surprised by an unusual announcement last week from the Ministry of Transport and Communications: Gold medalists would be rewarded with permits to import cars.

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