Govt 'must' develop Chiang Rai SEZ

Govt 'must' develop Chiang Rai SEZ

Deputy House Speaker Suchart Tancharoen.
Deputy House Speaker Suchart Tancharoen.

The government must speed up development of Chiang Rai as a special economic zone (SEZ) amid the rapid growth of the Golden Triangle SEZ in Laos, which lies just across its border, says deputy House speaker, Suchart Tancharoen.

Mr Suchart, who oversees Parliament's foreign affairs committee, visited Laos on Friday to discuss investment and trade opportunities in the Golden Triangle region -- where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar share a border.

The area's SEZ, which was jointly developed by China and Laos, has made over 100 billion baht in income since its creation.

Mr Suchart visited Ton Pheung district in Bokeo province with Wisarn Techatheerawat, Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Rai, and Dechit Khaotong, Democrat MP for Songkhla, where they joined the opening of 20th Kapok Flower Festival, also known as Dok Ngiew Festival.

The event, which was aimed at promoting local culture and traditions, was attended by prominent figures from Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and China.

In a discussion with with Laos' deputy prime minister Vilay Lakhamphong and the managing directors of the Golden Triangle SEZ Council, Mr Suchart discussed prospects for investment, trade and security threats in the area.

He said Thailand, as Laos' closest neighbour, should work together to help transform the Golden Triangle SEZ, long known as a drug-trafficking hub. The area is also gaining notoriety for hosting online scammers.

"Thailand has lost many opportunities as it has not initiated any projects pertaining to the SEZ even though the country has geographical advantages which make it suitable as a transport hub," said Mr Suchart.

Chiang Rai, he said, is trying to take part in the region's redevelopment by building the Thailand-Laos bridge which connects Chiang Saen in Chiang Rai province to Laos' Ton Pheung district.

"The bridge will benefit Thailand as it will ease border trade, investment and tourism, especially the export of agricultural goods," Mr Suchart added.

"The SEZ is suitable for tourism, trade and investment. Even though the SEZ is mainly developed by the Chinese, the area is not for 'grey businesses' as many have wrongly believe" he said.

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