Mon 31 Jan 2011
Filed under: Business / Trade,On The Border
Business leaders in the country’s central region are pushing for more road development along the 2,193-kilometre border with Burma linking Chiang Rai to Chumphon without running through Bangkok and surrounding cities.
Sing Tangcharoenchaichana, who heads the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) in the central region, said members there were now working with government agencies to push forward a road construction project covering several provinces: Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Tak, Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani, Suphan Buri, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and Chumphon.
The proposed road development is meant to attract industries to expand in the area, improving income distribution to those provinces and lifting Thailand’s competitiveness in trade, investment, tourism and employment, he said.
Mr Sing was part of an FTI mission to Dawei in Burma from Jan 22-25 to discuss a partnership between Dawei University and the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The mission was also monitoring the progress of the 400-billion-baht Dawei project that includes a highway linking Dawei and Kanchanaburi, a deep-sea port and an industrial estate.
Construction of the port and highway in Dawei will be completed by 2015.
Dawei aims to be a trade hub connecting Southeast Asia and China to the Indian Ocean, via the Andaman Sea, receiving goods from the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
Kanchanaburi province expects to develop a special economic zone to accommodate trade, investment and transport to the Dawei project, he said.
On growing concerns over border unrest that may affect the plan, Mr Sing believes Burmese authorities are unlikely to close the road on a whim, though they would try to prevent incidents that may block construction.
At a recent meeting of the Asean Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Burma pledged to upgrade the new road to become part of the Asian Highway, an international highway.
Kanchanaburi deputy governor Chaiwat Limwantha said the province was accelerating efforts to turn Baan Phu Namron into a border checkpoint and customs office to facilitate transport of construction materials and allow investors and tourists into Dawei. The process is expected to take at most four months.
The new customs office would facilitate the export of machinery and equipment for the construction of the Dawei port and industrial zone. Many Thai factories may relocate to Dawei.
The government recently unveiled plans to construct two motorways – a Bang Yai-Nakhon Pathom-Muang Kanchanaburi route and another from Muang Kanchanaburi to Baan Phu Namron to connect to Dawei.