Japan nears Dawei participation call

Myanmar information search service

Japan aims to make a decision on the level of its involvement in the Dawei Special Economic Zone project by November, Myanmar officials said.

The world’s third-largest economy is mulling possible technical assistance or Official Development Assistance (ODA) support to the SEZ, said U Set Aung, deputy minister for National Planning and Economic Development at the beginning of a September 27 trilateral meeting in Yangon.

Japan will declare its role in Dawei at the November meeting of the Joint Coordinating Committee in Nay Pyi Daw, he added.

Union Minister U Aye Myint said that Myanmar is looking for reliable partners with technological expertise in order to speed up work on the SEZ.

The troubled Tanintharyi Region project was initially spearheaded by Italian-Thai Development Company, but government officials said in August it stepped aside as it ran into funding difficulties, though still operates as a contractor.

Dawei has been the result of high-level negotiations between Myanmar and Thai officials, who have requested Japanese assistance in the SEZ. Dawei would be linked to Bangkok some 350 kilometres (220 miles) away by road, providing the Thai capital with an outlet to the Andaman Sea.

The ambitious project is to cover 250 square kilometres, with the first phase projected to cost nearly US$9 billion including a deep-sea port and large industrial estate.

U Aye Myint said the SEZ could greatly benefit from Japan’s participation.

Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy director general Hidenao Yanagi said the September 27 meeting was an effort for Japanese players to gain information about the project.

“We have some expertise we can share, as Japan has been involved in similar projects,” he said.

He pointed to the Map Ta Phut industrial estate on Thailand’s eastern seaboard as a successful project begun 20 years ago. Map Ta Phut had gone through growing pains as well, but ended up successful, he said.

Thai deputy prime minister Niwattumrong Boosongpaisan said Dawei has so far seen strong cooperation between Myanmar and Thailand, though he said he would like to see Japanese cooperation as well.

Source: Myanmar Times

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