May 25, 2013

Myanmar port project to boost ties with Thailand

With opening of Dawei's deep-sea port in Myanmar, Thailand's western part is poised to become a logistics and transportation hub as well as tourist destination, according to analysts here.

Chaiyaporn Sianpanich of the Siam Intelligence Unit think-tank said that as soon as the port of Dawei in southeastern Myanmar becomes fully operational, Thailand's western province of Kanchanaburi could be developed into a trading center and a viable tourist destination in addition to the other world-renowned tourist spots in the country,

The 8-billion U.S. dollar deep-sea port and special economic zone is now rising in the coastal city of Dawei.

Thailand's construction giant Italian-Thai Development Co. has been involved in the construction of the deep-sea port, which is designed to accommodate ocean-going cargo ships that pass through the Indian and Pacific oceans, cutting short the maritime distance over a relatively long detour via Singapore.

A firm, jointly owned by the Thai and Myanmar governments and named Dawei Special Economic Zone Development Co, will be set up to run the Dawei project.

"The Dawei deep-sea port and special economic zone project will become part of the so-called East-West Corridor linking the Greater Mekong sub-region countries," Chaiyaporn said.

Besides the deep-sea port, other facilities that include an industrial estate, power plant, oil and gas pipelines to a commercial complex, railways and roads linking the two Southeast Asian countries will be built to turn Dawei into a regional seaboard logistical center, according to Chaiyaporn.

Chaiyaporn said that in addition to Kanchanaburi, which has thrived primarily because of its tourism industry, several neighboring provinces, namely Supanburi, Ratchaburi, Petchburi and Samut Songkram, will also likely benefit from the Dawei project.

Thailand's manufacturing industry in the central and eastern parts of the country is expected to gradually relocate to Dawei industrial estate within the next decade thus benefiting the western part of Thailand.

"Capital goods including machinery, steel, cement and oil will be transferred from Thailand to the Dawei project. So will some of the Thai and foreign investors, such as those from China, Japan and South Korea as well as skilled factory employees. Others who will launch business ventures or go to work in Dawei might choose to live in Kanchanaburi or nearby provinces in Thailand," Chaiyaporn said.

Thai skilled factory workers and those hired by tourist establishments might also settle down in Kanchanaburi or its neighboring provinces and commute daily by train to Dawei, about 160 kilometers from a Thai border.

A four-lane expressway that would link Dawei to the northwestern outskirts of Bangkok is also being planned, according to Chaiyaporn.

Land prices in Kanchanaburi's residential and commercial areas, particularly in the neighborhood of Baan Nampu Ron village, which will become the permanent cross-border checkpoint, have reportedly rose five times, from 550 U.S. dollars to more than 2,700 U.S. dollars per acre, mainly due to speculation.

"Kanchanaburi's gross domestic product is believed to rise up to 10 percent a year while its tourist industry is expected grow by as much as 30 percent with the full operation of the land-based logistical hub on the Thai side and the sea-based logistical hub on the Myanmar side," Chaiyaporn said.

Source: Xinhua