Thailand has stressed its intention to support Myanmar in the Dawei Special Economic Zone Development project, which will boost not only the overall economic and social development in ASEAN but also regional connectivity.
Both countries have made some progress of the project, which is expected to begin construction in April 2013, as planned.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra led a delegation, comprising relevant Cabinet members and business leaders, to visit Myanmar on 17 December 2012. The Prime Minister discussed progress of the project with Myanmar President Thein Sein and traveled to the project site in Dawei.
The project includes the development of the Dawei Deep- Sea Port, together with the industrial estate and related supporting facilities.
Once completed, it will serve as a new economic gateway for Thailand, Myanmar, and other ASEAN member states, as well as China, while offering a sea route to India, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa that will reduce transportation time linking the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea and beyond.
Prime Minister Yingluck said that the Dawei project would be connected with the Laem Chabang deep-sea port in Thailand and this would contribute to the development of the country’s Eastern Seaboard, as well.
The Thai and Myanmar governments signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in May 2008 to develop the deep- sea port in Dawei and a connecting road link to Bangkok. Later, in July 2012, both governments signed another MOU on the Comprehensive Development of the Dawei Special Economic Zone and Its Related Project Areas in order to further enhance their cooperation of the Dawei project. Italian-Thai Development Public Company was granted a concession to develop the project from the Myanmar government.
Two joint committees have been formed to handle this project. One is the Thailand-Myanmar Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC), co-chaired by Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan and Myanmar Industry Minister Aye Myint. The other is the Thailand-Myanmar Joint High-Level Committee (JHC), co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na Ranong and Myanmar Vice President Nyan Tan.
JCC will conclude details of financial sources and law issuance to promote investment in the project site by February 2013. The details will be submitted to JHC in March 2013 for the signing new framework and sectoral agreements.
Thailand has offered to help Myanmar relocate people affected by the land appropriation necessary for the project. The affected people will also be provided with labor skill training and knowledge about integrated farming for their livelihood.
Thailand will also help improve the Dawei Hospital and provide educational and technical assistance for Myanmar.
The ADB, which is part of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) secretariat, believes the hugh infrastructure project, which is designed to shorten the shipment of oil, gas and commodities to China and Southeast Asia, needs more preparation time, said Arjun Goswami, the bank’s director of regional cooperation and operations coordination in Southeast Asia, according to an article in the Bangkok Post on Friday.
For example, the preparation stage for the Nam Theun 2 hydropower project in Laos lasted 10 years, he said.
“The project needs to complete all feasibility studies including environmental and social impact assessments as well as due diligence. You should not rush into it,” Goswami told the Euromoney’s Greater Mekong Investment Forum in Bangkok.
He said the Dawei project is critical for the GMS’s credibility and failure would damage the group’s reputation.