Dec 18, 2012

Thai PM's landmark visit boosts progress on Dawei project in Myanmar

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's one-day visit to Myanmar on Monday promoted bilateral cooperation on the development of the massive Dawei deep-sea port and special economic zone project in Myanmar's southern Taninthayi region, observers here said.

It was Yingluck's first visit to Dawei since the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in developing the area in May 2008.

Yingluck was accompanied by a 40-member Thai delegation including Thai businessmen.

During her short stay in Dawei, Yingluck met with Myanmar President U Thein Sein. The two leaders exchanged views on the promotion of trade between the two countries, cooperation on Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) construction, railway and motorway construction, Myanmar workers' issues in Thailand and the launching of Mawtaung-Phayathonehzu border trade camp, officials said.

The two leaders also talked on sooner implementation of the project, availability of communication channels and electricity, conservation of environment, capitals and investments and data collection about the project, vowing to make it a success.

Thein Sein said the Dawei SEZ project is important not only for Myanmar and Thailand but also for other ASEAN countries.

He said the investment of a third country must be invited in the areas as the two countries could not implement it. He tipped Japan as the interested third country.

Yingluck pledged to cooperate closely with Myanmar to implement the project more effectively. She earmarked Dawei Deep-Sea Port and Map Ta Put Port as the important transportation channels of the region while stressing the need to invite the third country as well.

The two also inspected the progress of the the Dawei SEZ and its related investments.

The Dawei SEZ, the first special economic zone in Myanmar, was agreed during the last visit to Thailand by President U Thein Sein in July.

It includes construction of Dawei deep sea-port, buildings for shipyard and maintenance work, establishment of zone, petrochemical industries, oil refinery, steel plant, power stations and Dawei-Bangkok motor road and railroad and laying of oil pipeline along the motorway and railroad.

Being implemented by the Italian-Thai Development Company and involving six local contractors, the project is in progress now.

When Yingluck and Thein Sein met in Phnom Penh on the sidelines of the 21st Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN) in November, they reaffirmed that some prioritized projects are set to be completed in 2015.

According to a Myanmar-Thai joint declaration issued during the 21st Summit of ASEAN, Thailand will implement regional development tasks including roads, deep seaport, industrial zone, power plant, water supply, water treatment system, communication and high speed train in the Dawei SEZ.

A joint committee was established by the two countries to speed up the comprehensive development of the Dawei SEZ and its related projects during a visit to Thailand by Myanmar Vice President U Nyan Tun earlier November. The committee's first meeting was followed in Bangkok.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also inked on the implementation of the project, witnessed by U Nyan Tun and Yingluck.

According to official statistics, Thailand's trade with Myanmar hit 1.24 billion U.S. dollars in the first four months (April-July) of the fiscal year 2012-13.

Of the total during the period, Thailand's export to Myanmar took over 207.04 million dollars while Thailand's import from Myanmar represented 1.033 million dollars.

Statistics show Thailand represented the second in Myanmar's foreign investment line-up with 9.568 billion dollars in 61 projects as of July 2012.

Three industrial zones will be established in Myawady, Phayathonehzu and Pha-an where Thai entrepreneurs can mainly invest in, according to local media.

Source: Xinhua