Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thein Sein visits deep-sea port

Myanmar President Thein Sein visits Laem Chabang deep-sea port in Chon Buri yesterday. His trip to
Laem Chabang industrial estate comes before significant memorandums of understanding are signed today
at Government House on economic development cooperation covering the Dawei special economic zone.
Thailand and Myanmar will sign three memorandums of understanding today to reaffirm their economic cooperation, particularly on the development of Dawei deep-sea port and its strategic link with the Thai Eastern Seaboard.

The three MoUs will be signed after talks between Myanmar President Thein Sein and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at Government House.

The Myanmar leader arrived in Bangkok for a three-day official visit yesterday and travelled straight to the eastern seaboard to observe the Laem Chabang deep-sea port operation in Chon Buri.

The official visit, twice cancelled, is the first to Thailand since he took office in March last year. His previous visit to Thailand was made on April 29 to May 1, 2008 in his capacity as prime minister.

Ms Yingluck said the development of the Dawei deep-sea port project in Myanmar will be a major topic for discussion during the visit.

Ms Yingluck said economic cooperation between Thailand and Myanmar, particularly the joint development of the Dawei deep-sea port project and a plan to connect the Dawei project to the Laem Chabang deep-sea port project, would be at the top of the meeting agenda.

Sihasak Phuangketkeow, permanent secretary for foreign affairs, said the three MoUs involve technical cooperation, economic development cooperation and energy.

The memorandum of understanding on the Dawei economic development which was signed previously between the former foreign ministers of the two countries, Noppadol Pattama and Nyan Win, is due to expire later this year.

The three MoUs to be signed today will reaffirm the two countries' cooperation on the project that would not only be key to development of southern Myanmar but also its link with Thailand's Eastern Seaboard, Mr Sihasak said.

The MoUs, particularly on Dawei, should send a strong signal for foreign investment that the two governments are committed to development of the strategic economic corridor that would help uplift the impoverished region in Myanmar, the official said.

The Industry Ministry and the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board (ONESDB) yesterday briefed the Myanmar leader on the benefits of the link between Dawei and Thailand's Eastern Seaboard.

ONESDB secretary-general Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, said the Dawei-Laem Chabang link will benefit Thailand in two ways.

First, the shift from road to rail transport which it enables will reduce logistics costs by 4%. Logistics costs comprise 15% of gross domestic product.

Second, it will cut travel time by half. A study by the Japanese government indicated the travel time from Laem Chabang to India's Chennai will be cut to three days from six days.

The initial investment in Dawei has been estimated at $US8.6 billion (272 billion baht).