Thailand, Burma to Revive Multi-Billion-Dollar Dawei Zone in 2015

By Satawasin Staporncharnchai 4 December 2014

BANGKOK— Thailand and Burma will sign a pact in January aimed at reviving the multi-billion dollar Dawei industrial zone in Burma, a Thai minister said on Thursday.

Deputy Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisit, who is also secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), said the Thai and Myanmar governments would meet to kick start what is arguably Southeast Asia’s most ambitious industrial zone.

“At the start of January 2015 the Thai and Myanmar government will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to move forward the Dawei Special Economic Zone,” he added.

He said he hoped Italian Thai Development Pcl and Rojana Industrial Park Pcl would play a role in the first phase of the project.

His comments come after Thailand and Burma seized control of the strategically located complex from Italian Thai Development (ITD), Thailand’s biggest construction firm, in Nov. 2013.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone complex, a 250-sq-km (100-sq-mile) deep-sea port, petrochemical and heavy industry hub, is located along the slim Thai-Myanmar peninsula and was described by ITD as “the new global gateway of Indochina”.

The project has been stuck in a quagmire for years. Delays were largely blamed on ITD, which had failed to secure private investment and agree on a power source for the complex.

Thailand’s ruling junta pledged in October to step up involvement in the project, following talks between Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Minoru Kiuchi, Japan’s vice foreign minister.

Arkhom said foreign players, including Japan, were ready to get involved in Dawei, but did not give further details.

Located in southeastern Burma with highway links to Bangkok and Thailand’s eastern seaboard, Dawei is set to be Southeast Asia’s largest industrial complex when complete.

The industrial zone would be a potential boon for firms relying on the transport of goods around the crowded Malacca Strait, the world’s busiest shipping lane.