It came to my attention recently that of the three countries in the world that don’t currently use the metric system on a routine basis: the United States, Burma and Liberia, it appears Burma has now announced its intention to switch over.
(Don’t let the Myanmar reference throw you, I’ve been using “Burma” in my writing and discussion because our government via the CIA Factbook classifies it as Burma.)
Anyway, this was sent out as a news story, ironically during our county’s National Metric Week and dated 10/10 no less:
Myanmar is preparing to adopt the metric system or the International System of Units (SI System) as the country’s official system of measurement, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
The reason given:
…to streamline the weight measuring process in exporting agricultural products such as rice, beans and maize for which various measurement systems have been widely applied, according to Dr. Pwint San, Deputy Minister for Commerce.
Interestingly, I tried to confirm this from another news source but was unable to do so. I was only able to find the exact same story posted on a couple of other sites. Granted, one of them was on page 90 of a pdf titled: Myanmar Investment & Industry Information for Oct-5-11, 2013 and that cited Myanmar Time[s], October 6, 2013. Couldn’t locate the original story even after I switched to the English version of the Times. I also tried to confirm the information on the Myanmar government’s site, and while there I did discover it had a trade conference that week (which would make sense in terms of timing) but only the headlines were viewable in English so I couldn’t find anything more official.
Additional research led me to the following story from last year (July 26, 2012) that cited something from previous year that with the headline and subhead:
Myanmar is converting to the metric system
It’s certainly going to cause a lot of controversy and resistance within the country, but let’s see.
The article’s lead went on to say:
THE basket, viss, tin and tical would largely disappear from Myanmar if the Ministry of Commerce gets its way.
At a meeting on the development of wholesale centres held in Magwe last month, participants agreed in principle to the government’s proposal to adopt the kilogram as the basic unit for commodities trade in all townships.
If implemented, the kilogram would replace traditional, non-metric measurements that are used widely in domestic trade. The government is pushing the change to make foreign trade, which is conducted exclusively in metric measurements, simpler and bring the country into line with its trade partners.
That would seem to confirm that the intention of the government so maybe it was able to make progress
My contact with the National Institute for Standards and Technology wasn’t able to shed any additional light on this subject but sent me some new references.
So, will Myanmar leave us in the dust regarding metric system adoption? It remains to be seen since I haven’t been able to locate information outside of what’s cited above (such as a proposed adoption date) so I’m willing to sit back for a while and see what else transpires on this front.
Still, if it does comes to pass, it will be the latest country the U.S. Metric Association will recognize as moving toward metric adoption since Jamaica in 1998. That’s not a typo, the fourth to the last country to switch to the metric system did so during the LAST century in 1998.
And just to be clear, every country in the world has “officially” adopted the metric system, including the United States. In fact, the United States signed the Convention of the Meter in Paris back in May 1875 and to this day is a member of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. (World Metrology Day is on May 20 each year to commemorate the signing.)
Do we really want to come in second to last in this important race? Or even last, as is looking more likely?
It’s time to gain some momentum on this front and I plan to write about that more next weekend, stay tuned.
Thanks for your interest,