Trade jumps at Myanmar-Thai border
30 March, 2012
The Mae Sot-Myawaddy border trade checkpoint on the Burma-Thailand border could take in US $277 million in the first quarter of 2012 because of improved economic and social conditions in Burma, officials said. The quarter marks the first trade figures since the checkpoint was reopened in December 2011 after being closed more than one year.
The Thai chief immigration officer reported the figures on Monday to local media, said the Xinhua news agency.
Pongthep Buathap, the chief immigration officer at Thailand's Mae Sot cross-border checkpoint, said trade has shown steady growth in recent months.
Continuous growth resumed this year due to improvements in Burmese domestic politics, he said. The two most imported products were fuel and commodities, he said.
Construction is expected to begin on a second bridge linking Mae Sot and Myawaddy, according to sources close to Thai authorities in Tak Province.
The bridge, to be financed by Thailand, will link Yaypu in Myawaddy Township and Mae Sot.
“Trucks will use this bridge, and they won’t have to go through Myawaddy to reach the trade zone,” a Thai official said.
Authorities said that the current Friendship Bridge is weak and only pedestrians will be allowed to cross on it.
The existing Friendship Bridge was built in 1997. In 2005, the bridge became weak due to water erosion. Many traders now use motorboats to transport goods between Mae Sot and Myawaddy.
In July 2010, Burmese authorities closed the Friendship Bridge and the small ferry ports. The closures severely affected Burmese traders importing motor vehicles, clothes, machinery and food from Thailand. The bridge was reopened in early December 2011.
Other routes to conduct border trade between Thailand and Burma are the Mae Sai-Tachilek route and the Ranong-Kawthaung route.