Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Prayut pitches Dawei to India

Bangkok Post 18/10/2014

Thai officials say they have persuaded India to consider taking part in the long-delayed Dawei industrial megaproject in Myanmar.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha greets Indian Deputy Foreign Secretary Vijay Kumar Singh in Milan on Friday. (Government House photo)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha raised the issue during talks in Milan on Friday with Indian Deputy Foreign Secretary Vijay Kumar Singh after the end of the Asia-Europe Meeting, Government House officials said on Saturday.

Gen Prayut said the project could serve India as an Asian highway linking Thailand to India through Myanmar would be completed in 2016, they added.

The 3,200-kilometre road would enter Myanmar via Mae Sot district in Tak province and run all the way to Manipur state in northeastern India.

The Dawei project is struggling to get off the ground due to its massive size that includes a deep-sea port and a petrochemical complex.

Thailand and Myanmar agreed during a visit to Nay Pyi Taw on Oct 9 by Gen Prayut to renew efforts to start it.

Japan has shown interest in the project, but it is already heavily committed to a major port and industrial zone at Thilawa near Yangon, where construction began last year.

Dawei and Thilawa are two of the three special economiz zones (SEZ) that the Myanmar government is promoting. The third, in Kyaukphyu in Rakhine State 400 kilometres northwest of Yangon, is largely funded by Chinese interests.

Gen Prayut said in his weekly TV programme on Friday that an agreement would be signed next month for the first phase of Dawei but he did not go into detail.

But Deputy Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said earlier that Thailand and Myanmar would scale down the first phase and there would be no open bidding for a planned agreement to sign.

The Dawei project is administered by the two countries through Dawei SEZ Development Co with Thailand and Myanmar holding equal stakes of 50% each.

The special-purpose firm took over the project from Italian-Thai Development Plc, which was granted concession by the former military junta in 2010 but was unable to persuade investors and lenders that the project could be turned into reality.

ITD reportedly spent $189 million on the project’s first phase and will be compensated by the new state-backed operator. It also remains eligible to bid for future Dawei-related work.