Foreign Policy (implicitly) asks the question: If you want to know which country is Burma’s largest trade partner, should you just google for it?
This is the #1 hit, Google comes up with:
China – Burma’s main trading partner, major arms supplier, and therefore the only country believed to have any leverage over the generals – expressed “concern,” but reaffirmed its policy of “non-interference” in the “internal affairs,” as stated by Zhang Zhijun, a vice minister of the Chinese Communist Party International Department in Beijing on September 25.
The CIA begs to differ:
- Exports – Thailand 49%, India 12.8%, China 5.3%, Japan 5.2% (2006), with the caveat official export figures are grossly underestimated due to the value of timber, gems, narcotics, rice, and other products smuggled to Thailand, China, and Bangladesh
- Imports – China 34.6%, Thailand 21.8%, Singapore 16.2%, Malaysia 4.7%, South Korea 4.3% (2006), also with a warning: …import figures are grossly underestimated due to the value of consumer goods, diesel fuel, and other products smuggled in from Thailand, China, Malaysia, and India (2006 est.)
As Foreign Policy points out, Burma’s foreign trade numbers are relatively small, both when we look at the Burmese economy and regional trade, so it is a question if economic factors have played a role in recent developments at all. Anyway, the point I wanted to make was that if you are not very careful with your sources, you risk passing on unsubstantiated claims in your own work.
I would also note that the CIA Factbook editors do not reveal what sources they have used. Their disclaimer says that:
…the Factbook staff uses many different sources to publish what we judge are the most reliable and consistent data for any particular category. Space considerations preclude a listing of these various sources.
So you may want to check against other available statistics.