The final phase of the expansion of Highway 12 -- which links Thailand with Myanmar and Laos in Tak and Mukdahan, respectively -- has been completed, which the government hopes will boost cross-border economic activities between the three countries.
Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said on Monday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was hopeful that the highway's expansion will bring about economic benefits, especially to those living in Kalasin and Mukdahan in the Northeast.
Highway 12 is a part of the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC), a route which links four mainland Southeast Asian countries, from Myanmar in the West to Vietnam in the East.
The highway's completion will be a boon for logistics, as well as trade and tourism, as it effectively connects the Andaman coast to the South China Sea, the government said.
About 793 kilometres of the 1,530-km-long highway lies in Thailand. The Thai section of the highway begins at the Second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge in Tak's Mae Sot district, linking it with Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Chaiyaphum, Khon Kaen, Kalasin and Mukdahan, where it connects to Laos at the province's Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge.
The section that had just been upgraded is the 115.6-km one between Kalasin and Mukdahan, which is now a four-lane highway. The project cost the government 5.8 billion baht.
Mr Anucha said that Highway 12 is expected to boost regional tourism as well as improve the quality of life of those living along the border.
The Finance Ministry has said that the East-West Economic Corridor will boost transborder trade by at least 50%.
According to a report from the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council, the highway will also benefit the special economic zones (SEZs) in Mukdahan.
There are 868 new businesses in the province's SEZs with a value of 1.6 billion baht, Mr Anucha said.