||Asean Affairs 25 June 2013
Muse economic zone gets green light
The development of a 288-acre Special Economic Zone in Muse, Shan State, has been announced at a joint shareholder meeting of Myanmar construction companies Great Hawkham Public and New Star Light on June 15, according to state-run The New Light of Myanmar.
The urbanization project is likely to sit on the bank of the Shweli River, directly facing the Chinese border, and is designed to facilitate the growing transport and infrastructure demands of the growing gateway city.
Projects include the construction of cargo yards and a traffic detour designed to combat congestion caused by an increasing number of cargo vehicles, says The New Light of Myanmar.
A figure on how much the project will cost and the timeframe for its completion have not been released. However, a spokesperson at the shareholder meeting was quoted as saying that the land preparations and road construction would start immediately.
The project hopes to address Muse’s growing trade demands. A Border Trade spokesman said earlier this year that the town saw US$189 million in cross-border trade during January alone.
The town is a hub for resources, construction materials and consumer goods, as well as being one of the major export points for Myanmar’s agricultural trade. Just last week the Muse-Nant Khan Traders Association estimated that 2,000 tons of Myanmar rice were now crossing into China via Muse per day.
The town was earmarked by the Government for a facelift in March when Commerce Minister, Win Myint, announced to Parliament that several civil projects were in the works. He claimed that the development of the area was necessary for “the glory of the country,” suggesting that its neglect would reflect poorly on the country’s economic development.
Muse is situated in the area of northern Shan state that has seen intense conflict from resident rebel groups including the Kachin Independence Organization and Shan State Army. The border town is well known for its illicit trades in drugs and gems, as well as multiple documented cases of human trafficking.
Despite this, the Government and invested companies are keen to improve the reputation of the troubled town through the development of modern infrastructure. The area has received a lot of attention as the exit point for the controversial Shwe Gas pipeline project which was completed early this month and is expected to soon begin the transfer of oil and gas to Yunnan province.