Monday, July 23, 2012

Thein Sein, Yingluck focus on Dawei project

Monday, 23 July 2012 11:52 Mizzima News

Burmese President Thein Sein quickly got down to business in Thailand during his three-day visit that started on Sunday, immediately visiting a huge Thai port and industrial zone south of Bangkok.

Burmese President Thein Sein, seated right, visits Laem Chabang deep seaport in Chonburi Province in Thailand on Sunday, July 22, 2012, while on a three-day visit to Thailand to discuss economic development projects. Photo: MJA

The Laem Chabang Port and Laem Chabang Industrial Estate in eastern Chon Buri is similar to Burma’s planned Dawei deep-sea port and industrial zone southeast of Rangoon, which will be largely developed by Thai companies.

During his visit, Thein Sein will meet with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on ways to develop the Dawei project and a planned transportation corridor connecting to Thailand.

Yingluck told The Nation newspaper that economic cooperation between Thailand and Burma, particularly the joint development of the Dawei port project and the link to the Laem Chabang port, would be a top priority in their discussions.

The two countries will sign three Memorandums of Understanding on development.

A Thai official said the Dawei-Laem Chabang link will benefit Thailand by shifting transportation from road to railways, which will reduce logistics costs and increase productivity by cutting travel time from Laem Chabang to India's Chennai from six to three days.

The initial investment in Dawei has been estimated at US$ 8.6 billion. Estimats of the total cost are up to $60 billion. The project includes refineries, power plants and shipping facilities designed to make Burma a key hub in transporting good into Southeast Asia and China.

A Thai official told The Bangkok Post that Thein Sein made the right decision when he postponed his trip to Thailand earlier this month because his visit might have received less attention, coming as it did at the same time as a visit by Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to Thailand.

The two governments will now have more time to discuss important issues, he said.

“President Thein Sein is the key person whom the international community should support to move reform and national reconciliation in Myanmar ahead,” the official told the Bangkok Post.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is important, of course, as the symbol of democracy in the country, but President Thein Sein is the person responsible for reform.”

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