ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thai firm signs infrastructure deal with Burma
The project, which was said to include a deep sea port, an industrial estate for heavy industries such as steel and petrochemicals and a road and rail link between Dawei, formerly called Tavoy, and Kanchanaburi province in western Thailand.
The project is to be implemented in three phases within 10 years, according to the framework agreement. The port's 22 wharfs are designed to to handle up to 25 vessels ranging from 20,000 to 50,000 tons.
The project also includes the construction of an 170-kilometre eight-lane highway and the rail link between Dawei and the Thai-Burmese border.
"If the plan goes ahead it could reconfigure shipping patterns" between South-East and East Asia, the shipping industry website DredgingToday.com observed.
West-bound goods from Thailand would no longer have to be shipped out of Laem Chabang port, on the Gulf of Thailand, and sail round Singapore and the Malacca Straits, the website said.
A decade ago, Thailand and Burma cooperated in laying a 260-kilometre-long pipeline between Dawei and Kanchanaburi province, allowing Myanmar to export natural gas from offshore reserves in the Andaman Sea to its neighbour.
Burma has enjoyed a trade surplus for the past eight years, thanks to increasing exports of natural gas to Thailand.
In the last fiscal year through March 31, Burma's exports amounted to 6.9 billion dollars, 38.4 per cent of which were gas sales to Thailand.
According to foreign economists, the gas earnings have largely been pocketed by the junta that has ruled Burma since 1988.
As of mid-2010, Thailand maintained its position as top investor in Myanmar, with 10.3 billion dollars in projects, while China came second with 6.4 billion dollars, followed by Hong Kong with 5.9 billion dollars.
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