Suu Kyi visit set to push Dawei

Suu Kyi visit set to push Dawei

Megaproject on Thai government's agenda

People pass a market in Dawei, Myanmar. The Thai government hopes the much-delayed Dawei megaproject will be revitalised following discussions with a Myanmar trade delegation later this month.PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
People pass a market in Dawei, Myanmar. The Thai government hopes the much-delayed Dawei megaproject will be revitalised following discussions with a Myanmar trade delegation later this month.PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD

The multibillion-dollar Dawei megaproject is expected to get a new lease of life when Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi visits Thailand next week.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said Thailand would raise Dawei's development plan along with other economic cooperation issues in talks with a Myanmyar trade delegation, led by State Counsellor Suu Kyi, during a June 23-25 visit to Thailand.

A new Myanmar-Thailand Joint High-Level Committee (JHC) will also be set up during the visit to handle the long-awaited Dawei deep-sea port and special economic zone (SEZ).

"I believe Myanmar's new government will continue developing the Dawei development project because it plays a vital role in the economic development of the two countries," he said. "Once a deep-sea port is developed there, it will enhance the economies not only of Thailand and Myanmar, but also of other countries in Southeast Asia."

A source from the Government House said the JHC needed to be set up as soon as possible to handle the next step of Dawei's development, with many issues now waiting for JHC approval, including an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

The source said Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD), which won a concession from the Myanmar government to develop the first phase of the Dawei SEZ in southeastern Myanmar, has already completed the EIA for the project.

ITD signed an agreement in August to start developing the first phase of the megaproject immediately, with an initial investment budget of US$1.7 billion.

Some $500 million will go towards a 450-megawatt gas-fired power plant. ITD also plans to invest in an additional coal-fired power plant once the Dawei industrial zone is fully developed.

Another $500 million will be spent on a petrochemical plant and oil refinery to serve demand at Dawei.

The megaproject is expected to create up to 100,000 jobs when it is finally completed.

The source noted that construction of the 132-kilometre road from the Dawei deep-sea port to Ban Phu Nam Ron in Kanchanaburi had also been delayed, while the Thai government itself has yet to transfer a 4.5 billion baht loan to its counterpart in Myanmar for construction, as it is waiting for the formation of Myanmar's new government.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith earlier said construction of a road linking the Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar with Kanchanaburi would be delayed after stretches of the road were found to be unsafe for lorries.

Development of the project was originally due to start in March. Construction is expected to take three years.

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