In Hong Kong, Somkid hails Belt and Road infrastructure

In Hong Kong, Somkid hails Belt and Road infrastructure

Deputy PM says Thais keen to invest in scheme

Thailand is eager to develop infrastructure projects linking to China's One Belt, One Road Initiative and create seamless connectivity within Asia, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

In his keynote speech yesterday at the third Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong, Mr Somkid said Thailand is investing heavily in double-track rail networks and high-speed train projects and is keen to integrate with the China-initiated scheme.

"Thailand is investing not only in the high-speed rail route linking the three airports of Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao, but also the Thai-Sino high-speed rail network linking Bangkok and Nong Khai that connects to Vientiane," he said. "Double-track rail networks are also being built nationwide, linking Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor and Laos, Cambodia and Dawei in Myanmar."

The Thai mobile cabinet in Nakhon Sawan on June 12 approved in principle a proposal to build a double-track railway linking Tak and Nakhon Phanom provinces as part of transport routes under the East-West Economic Corridor.

The proposed 902-kilometre railway would see Nakhon Sawan as a connecting point. Under the proposal, the double-track railway would connect Tak's Mae Sot district with Nakhon Phanom in the Northeast via Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan and Khon Kaen.

The scheme is roughly divided into three sections: a 250km stretch from Tak to Nakhon Sawan; a 291km length from Nakhon Sawan to Khon Kaen's Ban Phai district; and a 355km route to Nakhon Phanom.

"Those projects will facilitate Asean's regional tourism, logistics and transport service, which strengthens linkages for trade, investment and tourism from China to the region," Mr Somkid said.

The long-term plan envisions roads linking Thailand to Laos, southern China and Myanmar, and Myanmar to India and Bangladesh.

The forum gathered more than 80 speakers from Hong Kong, mainland China and countries along the Belt and Road to share insights into development, intergovernmental cooperation and business opportunities in various industries.

Mr Somkid told those assembled Thailand is speeding up digital infrastructure investment, including a new underwater cable network linking Bangkok with Hong Kong and mainland China's Greater Bay Area.

The Greater Bay Area refers to the Chinese government's scheme to link the cities of Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing into an integrated economic and business hub.

Mr Somkid said the Greater Bay Area can in turn link to the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (Acmecs) states via rail network.

"Thailand is ready to integrate the economic cooperation between the Greater Bay Area and Acmecs and Asean," he said.

Mr Somkid said Hong Kong's Economic Trade Office in Bangkok is expected to open early next year.

He said the One Belt, One Road Initiative will become more powerful once the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is implemented.

Asean trade ministers and those from six dialogue partners (India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand) will gather in Tokyo on Sunday to hammer out differences over the 16-nation RCEP trade deal.

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