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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        27  June  2011

PTT anxious about Myanmar investment

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PTT Plc, Thailand's energy flagship, remains reluctant to invest in Myanmar’s 's Dawei project, citing unclear investment incentives and security concerns in the neighboring country.

Chainoi Puankosoom, an adviser to PTT, said the Thai government needed to reassure businesses about security before they invest in Dawei.

Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD), the country's largest contractor, has a 10-year contract to develop infrastructure and an industrial complex in Dawei on the western coast of Myanmar. The Thai government is encouraging businesses to tap the potential of a new, shorter trade route that will emerge as the huge development progresses.

PTT is among the potential Thai partners ITD hopes to recruit for joint investments. Mr. Chainoi said PTT was still in the very early stages of studying potential investments in Dawei.

"So far Thailand's bilateral relations with Burma have been smooth, but we still have some concerns and remain cautious about the future," he said.

"Investment risks are normal but I think the private sector needs some kind of guarantee that their investments in Dawei are secure," said Mr. Chainoi, who is also vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries.

Border conflicts flare up from time to time and force Burmese refugees into Thailand, straining relations between the two countries.

PTT has looked at investing in refineries, petrochemicals and power plants, but there is no clear information about investment incentives, land ownership, labour regulations, and taxes for imported raw materials, he said.

Gas from Myanmar's Gulf of Martaban is not suitable for using as a feedstock for petrochemical plants, he added.

Mr. Chainoi advised the government to look at ways to fully utilise the capacity of Map Ta Phut industrial complex in Rayong, which has been plagued by environmental concerns.

"The planned power plant in Dawei is going to supply Thailand. What will happen if the demand from industries here is not growing?" he asked.

The government should also look at the southern seaboard project, which has the potential to house light industries such as food processing, which are less harmful to the environment, said Mr. Chainoi.

PTT recently held an investor roadshow in Los Angeles with other companies such as Siam Cement Group and Bangkok Bank. The executives faced questions about Thai politics and fuel price subsidies.

"Too much market distortion through subsidies is not good," said Mr. Chainoi, a former CEO of PTT Aromatics and Refining.

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