Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dawei concession phase 1 due in Nov

The Nation October 18, 2014 1:00 am

Many countries likely to join in project given incentives: Prayut

Myanmar is preparing a primary agreement to grant a concession next month for the first phase of the Dawei industrial estate project, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said.

The first phase features 27 square kilometres, part of the 205-sq km full phase project.

In his weekly speech yesterday, Prayut said Thailand and Myanmar agreed that the project would be of benefit to both countries after discussions with President Thein Sein.

Prayut had made a two-day visit to Myanmar last week and met its president.

"But this [the concession granting] is another matter, one that concerns investors," he said, adding that Thailand needed to come to an agreement about how to create interest in the project among foreign investors.

"It is likely that many countries will join in to invest in the project, Japan being one of them," Prayut said.

He said Thailand was considered Myanmar's key partner with the highest trade and investment value after China.

On the matter of economic cooperation, there were discussions about developing transport linkages on certain routes such as the Myawaddy-Tanaosri-Kawkareik Road and the construction of the second Friendship Bridge that would link Mae Sot to Myawaddy.

The parties discussed the development of special economic zones at border areas to promote investment and create employment. Both countries' citizens stand to benefit if these links with Myanmar become realised. This effort will be effective if the undertaking can be pursued simultaneously by both parties, he said.

On the matter of financial collaboration, Prayut said he had expressed his appreciation to President Thein Sein for Myanmar authorities allowing Bangkok Bank to open branches in their country.

He said he had also asked the Myanmar authorities to consider supporting other Thai banks in a similar manner, and to promote the exchange of the baht and the kyat.

On the matter of energy, Thailand has asked for Myanmar's support in energy-related investments, especially alternative energy and hydropower generation on the Salawin River.

"There will be further discussions on this topic, either on adopting the joint investment model or on enacting an agreement on the purchase of electricity," Prayut said.

He said all developments were subject to the joint committee's verdict, and the need to ensure equal benefit for both countries that would strengthen their respective energy-security conditions. Both parties would then be able to work together more easily, quickly and efficiently.

In addition, he said both countries would try to do away with unnecessary bureaucracy in their civil services. Both will consider reducing the steps required by scaling down the levels within the working committees. Both parties will then be able to work together more easily, quickly and efficiently.

"We will try first to address problems that can be solved quickly - for example, the issue of border demarcation," he added. There already exists a joint working committee on border demarcation, and the committee will promptly consider demarcation at the spots that do not present a problem. As for the spots that are still problematic, both must consider economic activity as a priority and not let the demarcation issue hinder trade, development and commuting between the peoples of both nations.

"We will not take the opening of a border point to mean that the demarcation of that particular spot is complete; rather, we will view it as a matter of collaboration. Myanmar has agreed to this concept," Prayut said.

Communications between officials of both sides will be improved at all levels from the central government down to local administrations. This would help reduce conflicts.

"We are trying to open more border points, but consideration must also be given to the readiness of both countries," Prayut said. He said many matters would benefit not just Thailand and Myanmar, but also their multilateral partners in Asean.