Sunday, August 20, 2017

SEZ development project links Myanmar, Thailand at ASEAN summit

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will visit the Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar’s southern Taninthayi region following Myanmar and Thailand’s invitation for international investors to engage in the project, according to a Thai senior official at the 21st ASEAN summit this week.

President U Thein Sein and Ms Yingluck met at Phnom Penh’s Peace Palace to witness the signing of a joint declaration that established a joint committee for the development of the Dawei SEZ, Mr Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Thailand’s Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The Myanmar Times on Monday, November 19.

Ms Yingluck said she will visit the Dawei SEZ in mid-December, but the exact date has not yet been set.

The Thai government agreed to provide technical assistance to the project and extend their full cooperation to see its eventuation, Mr Sihasak said.

According to the joint declaration, Thailand will fund and implement the development of roads, a deep sea port, a power plant, water supply, communication and a high speed train within the Dawei SEZ, said Mr Sihasak.

The prioritised development projects for the Dawei SEZ are expected to be complete in 2015, Mr Sihasak said.

He said that the joint committee will maintain an atmosphere conducive to investment, by offering incentives to investors and prioritising development projects.

Development projects will be implemented phase-by-phase, according to an Memorandum of Understanding signed in Thailand on Friday, November 9. The signing of the MoU was witnessed by Vice President U Nyan Tun during his visit to Bangkok and Ms Shinawatra.

During the meeting at the Peace Palace, Ms Yingluck reaffirmed her commitment to the project and told President U Thein Sein that she planned to also send a delegation of major business representatives to Myanmar, Mr Sihasak said.   

“[Ms Yingluck] wants Thai businesspeople to inspect and assess the Dawei SEZ,” he said.

“A future discussion following the delegation can be electricity-generating gas turbines for Myanmar,” he added.

The project was first agreed on this year when President U Thein Sein visited Thailand on July 23. The Dawei SEZ project is being implemented by the Italian-Thai Development Company.

“After both governments signed the agreement for the Dawei SEZ, progress has been very rapid. The SEZ will provide economic corridors within Southeast Asia that will connect Cambodia, Vietnam and other ASEAN countries,” Mr Sihasak said.

Myanmar and Thailand have issued a joint statement that the Dawei SEZ and its related projects will provide strategic connectivity both within the region and between other regional partners.   

Both countries signed the original framework agreement for the Dawei SEZ on November 9, 2010.