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Thailand-Myanmar deep-sea port project 'back on track'

Publication Date : 05-10-2012


The delayed Dawei mega-project is expected to forge ahead again soon, after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Myanmar President Thein Sein discussed the issue on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week.

The leaders of the two nations plan to visit the site of the Dawei deep-sea port and industrial project. Meanwhile, Italian-Thai Development is expected to sign a contract for construction of the port and the road connection from the Thai border this month.

"Initially, the governments of the two countries will put themselves behind a budget for the project to send a signal to private sector of their support," said Pansak Vinyarath, chief of the prime minister's economic advisory board and director of the Strategic Committee for Reconstruction and Future Development.

He told the media yesterday that the National Economic and Social Development Board was drafting a master plan for connectivity development between economic zones of Thailand and Myanmar.

There are six major plans, consisting of infrastructure development in Dawei Economic Zone, target industrial development, power and energy development, social and community development, legislation improvements, and financial |support.

"The Finance Ministry is setting up a working panel to consider the project's appropriate financial and shareholding structure between the state and private sectors of Thailand, Japan and Myanmar as well as sources of funds," he said, adding that approval for this would then be sought from the Cabinet. After that the Thai government would set up a formal working group to handle negotiation tasks.

Also yesterday, Setsuo Iuchi, president of the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) Bangkok, met with Industry Minister Pongsvas Svasti to discuss the Dawei project.

Pongsvas said after meeting with Iuchi that Jetro had confirmed its participation in the Dawei project. The Industry Ministry also informed Jetro that a joint committee chaired by Myanmar's deputy president and Thai Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong had been formed after talks by the two leaders in New York last week.

"The investment plan is expected to be announced in November, so we will know which parts will be invested by which state, private sector or joint investment of the three countries - Thailand, Myanmar and Japan," Pongsvas said.

Italian-Thai Development, Thailand's biggest contractor, has been granted a concession from the Myanmar government to develop the special economic zone and deep-sea port in Dawei. The delayed project is expected to cost US$8.6 billion (263 billion baht) or more.

Premchai Karnasuta, chairman of Italian-Thai Development, said the company expected to sign a contract for developing the Dawei deep-seaport project.

"ITD is trying to move up completion of the Dawei deep-sea port project to the beginning of 2014 from 2015 as scheduled," he said.

The contract includes a 160-kilometre road linking with Thailand's border. The port will cost $2 billion and the road $1 billion. The project includes a power plant, water-distribution grid, railway and information-technology system.

"Now, more than 60 private investors are interested in booking industrial-estate space," he said.

The environmental impact assessment is now complete and there was no objection from the Myanmar government, he said. Initially, the financing would be 80-per cent loans and 20-per cent company cash. ITD would first invest in the project and then transfer the assets and concessions to a special purpose vehicle formed by the Thai government and partners such as a representative of Japan.

However, Dawei Development Co will retain a 25-per cent equity stake in the project, he added.

Aung Kyaw Soe, managing director of Myanmar Textile Industries under the Myanmar Ministry of Industry, said at a seminar yesterday that there were bright investment prospects in his country's textile sector after the US lifted bans on investment and financial services.


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