Monday, July 23, 2012

Yingluck, Thein Sein firm up Dawei cooperation

Monday, 23 July 2012 16:26 Mizzima News    

In spite of financing issues, Thailand and Burma renewed their commitment on Monday to build the Dawei deep-sea port and economic zone in southern Burma, creating an improved transportation route from the Middle East and India into Southeast Asia.

Burmese President Thein Sein and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra review an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at Government House in Bangkok on Monday, July 23, 2012. Photo: AFP

The Dawei development project is headed by Ital-Thai, the largest contractor in Thailand, and could cost nearly US$ 60 billion before final completion.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told reporters at a press conference that the two countries would create ministerial-level contacts to address ongoing, related development issues.

“In our talks, I reaffirmed the commitment of the Thai government to push forward with this cooperation with Myanmar in regard to the development of the Dawei deep sea port to have concrete progress,” Yingluck said.

The Dawei project includes plans for a 250-square kilometre industrial area with a steel mill, petrochemical plant and oil refinery, plus a railroad and new highway linkage system to Thailand’s sea ports and industrial districts, and on to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Work on the project has slowed in recent months, but Thailand last week recommitted itself to providing initial infrastructure financing to get the project moving again with a pledge of up to $3 billion from PTT Pcl of Thailand, the state-owned energy company.

Thein Sein and Yingluck also agreed to open three new border crossing points near Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and Kanchanaburi, in addition to the three existing official checkpoints.

The Dawei project has faced continuing problems during the past year. A proposed coal-fired power plant was suspended after residents’ protested.

Dawei funding has been slow to develop, but officials said renewed efforts could attract funding from Japan and other sources soon.

The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Thailand agreeing to provide assistance in areas including security, infrastructure and logistics.

On Sunday, Thein Sein inspected the Laem Chabang deep-sea port on Thailand's Gulf Coast, which is to be connected by road to Dawei, cutting out the longer sea route around the Malaysian peninsula.

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