Italian-Thai Development Pcl. and Rojana Industrial Park will sign a US$1.7 billion deal in March to develop the Dawei industrial zone in Burma, the Thai government said on Friday.
Set to be Southeast Asia’s largest industrial complex when complete, the ambitious and long-delayed Dawei project in southeastern Burma includes highway links to Bangkok and Thailand’s eastern seaboard.
“At the initial stage it will be an investment of around $1.7 billion,” Deputy Transport Minister Arkhom Termittayapaisit told reporters after a meeting between Thai and Burmese officials in Bangkok on Friday.
Italian Thai and Rojana will develop the first phase of the project, he said.The project will begin with construction of a 138-km (86-mile) road from Dawei to Kanchanaburi province, 119 km northwest of Bangkok.
Thailand will provide soft loans to Burma, to meet a budget of around 3.9 billion baht ($119.23 million) for the road construction.
“Today bilateral relations between Thailand and Myanmar [Burma] are at their best,” Thai Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula said in a statement.
The success of the Dawei Special Economic Zone project would carry the two countries’ cooperation to new heights, benefiting both as well as the region, he added.
Besides the road-building, the first phase aims to complete within five years such infrastructure projects as a telecoms network, a small port and a reservoir, he said.
Plans for Dawei Special Economic Zone complex envisage a 250-sq-km (100-sq-mile) deep-sea port, petrochemical and heavy industry hub on the Thai-Burma peninsula.
The project has been stalled for years. Delays were largely blamed on Italian-Thai Development (ITD), which had failed to secure private investment and agree on a power source for the complex.
Thailand and Burma seized control of the strategically located complex from ITD, Thailand’s biggest construction firm, in Nov. 2013.
Thailand’s ruling junta pledged in October it would seek to advance the project.
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.
Source: THE IRRAWADDY