The development of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone will create new jobs and aid poverty alleviation efforts, a senior government official said last week at the signing of an agreement between Myanmar and Japan to start developing the zone next year.
The Memorandum of Cooperation will strengthen ties between Myanmar and Japan through the development of the Thilawa SEZ, one of the three zones under construction in Myanmar, Deputy Minister for National Planning and Economic Development U Set Aung said at the signing ceremony in Yangon on Sunday, December 21.
“The special economic zones are going to contribute towards economic and social development in the country. There are going to be many benefits and some of these benefits will include enormous employment opportunities at every level of society,” he said.
The Thilawa SEZ is in Yangon Region’s Thanlyin township. Under the agreement, work will begin on the 6000-acre project next year. A port and industrial park will be operating in 2015, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said.
Tokyo has already written off massive debts owed by Myanmar and Japanese media last month said it would pledge a fresh US$615 million in loans, a significant portion for the Thilawa project – although no final figures have been released.
U Set Aung said the zone will create employment for Myanmar working abroad illegally and also rural poor who migrate to Yangon.
“Internal migrants are very important and we have to accommodate them … we are concentrating on rural development and poverty reduction in Yangon Region. We need to create employment opportunities for rural migrants,” U Set Aung said.
U Set Aung added that developers of the Thilawa zone needed to take into account both the social and environmental effects of the project.
“We have to find an equal balance for development. The three pillars of sustainable development are economic, social and environmental. We have to take all three into serious consideration,” he said.
“We will do so through the implementation of the MoC in the Thilawa SEZ. The MoC not only signifies our economic cooperation with Japan, but also the friendship between our two countries.”
U Set Aung said the project would be important for helping Myanmar catch up to other countries in the region following decades of isolation.
“Now, we have to do something for our country, especially for our economic and social development. We can achieve this through the Thilawa SEZ project. The SEZs require us to develop new technologies and are a proper mechanism to lead the country towards economic reform and accelerate our development,” he said.
METI vice minister Mr Nobuhiko Sasaki said the Thilawa project will be successful if Myanmar and Japan concentrate on sustainable development and invite as many investors as possible.
“The project will surely contribute to economic development and the creation of jobs in Myanmar,” he said.
Mr Sasaki added that a strong marketing strategy will be necessary to attract foreign investment.
With assistance from AFP