Chiangrai Times – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Myanmar President Thein Sein told a joint news conference they had agreed to connect the strategically located Dawei Economic Zone with industrial areas along Thailand’s eastern seaboard, including the Laem Chabang deep sea port.
But they gave few details except to say ministers from both sides would start regular meetings from August.
The $50 billion project led by Italian-Thai Development Pcl ITD.BK in southern Myanmar could be one of the most important projects for the country whose young quasi-civilian government is eager to revive a battered economy by attracting foreign investment previously held back by years of sanctions.
It was the first time the two governments have said they would together support the $50 billion project led by Italian-Thai Development Pcl ITD.BK.
The two leaders said they had agreed to connect the new zone, with its deep sea port, with industrial areas along Thailand’s eastern seaboard, including the Laem Chabang port.
However, they did not say what level of support they would give the 250 sq km (97 sq mile) Dawei complex, a private initiative with plans to include steel mills, refineries, a petrochemical complex and power plants.
The deep-sea port, which would cost $2.5 billion and is due for completion in 2018, would bring in goods to be transported by rail or road from the Indian Ocean along a corridor that runs past Bangkok to its eastern seaboard.
The goods could either be used in Thai industrial estates there or shipped onwards to third countries, having bypassed the long and congested shipping lane through the Malacca Strait.
Residents in Dawei are worried about a deep-sea port project which Myanmar President Thein Sein has promised to push along.
Coordinator U Bo Bo Aung of the Dawei Development Association urged the Thai and Myanmar governments to disclose details of the three memoranda of understanding they signed on Monday to reaffirm their economic cooperation on the project.
“We do not know about the structures and components of the ministerial-level working group which was appointed by the two countries and which will implement the economic cooperation plans, particularly on achieving progress on the Thai-invested Dawei seaport and economic zone,” U Bo Bo Aung said from Dawei.
He said there had not been adequate consultation and information-sharing with local people to keep them up to date on the development and its long-term impact on their livelihoods.
Soe Aung, of the Forum for Democracy in Burma, doubted whether the projects supported by the MoUs would indeed help the people in the area.
“It is alarming that people’s property, including farmland, is being confiscated by the government and its cronies, and people are being forced out of the area without proper compensation and consultation,” said the Mae Sot-based activist.
Tim Sharky ward