BANGKOK Nov 7 Ministers from Myanmar and
Thailand met on Wednesday to show their support for the
struggling multibillion-dollar Dawei economic zone in Myanmar
and to look for ways to drum up more private sector interest.
"Collaboration on Dawei is of the utmost importance to both
our countries. The next step is to invite investment from the
state and private sectors," Thai Finance Minister Kittirat Na
Ranong said during a break in the meetings in Bangkok.
The $50 billion, 250 sq km (100 sq mile) complex was planned
to include a deep-sea port, steel mills, refineries, a
petrochemical complex and power plants.
However, Italian-Thai Development Pcl, Thailand's
largest construction firm and the parent of Dawei Development
Co, has struggled to find the $8.5 billion needed to finance
infrastructure and utilities under the first phase.
For a graphic on the economic zone:
On Wednesday, Thailand and Myanmar agreed to set up joint
committees overseeing infrastructure projects, including a
132-km (83-mile) road stretching from Dawei to the Thai border,
plus water and energy needs. Another committee will advise
businesses on Myanmar's new foreign investment
A follow-up meeting will be held in Myanmar's capital,
Naypyitaw, in December.
Funding for Dawei's first phase will be decided in the next
three or four months, with Myanmar keen for construction to
begin no later than April 2013, said Somchai Sajjapong, chief of
the Thai Finance Ministry's fiscal policy office.
In September, sources said Thai banks, led by Bangkok Bank
and Siam Commercial Bank, would provide
short-term loans to keep the first phase afloat before an
expected Japanese loan of up to $3.2 billion was
"There is strong interest from international banking
organisations keen to provide investment loans for Dawei,"
Finance Minister Kittirat said, adding Myanmar and Thailand had
not discussed the involvement of a third country.
Thailand is keen to see Dawei get off the ground as it is
ideally placed to provide its companies with a low-cost base for
Bangkok approved a $1.1 billion budget in May for
Dawei-related infrastructure in Thailand. It included a
four-lane highway linking towns in Thailand to Myamar plus
government offices at the border and housing for Thais who will
work in the zone.
Dawei Development Co said last month it planned to invest
more than 1 billion baht ($32 million) on infrastructure in the
economic zone to promote light industry.
($1 = 30.7500 Thai baht)
(Additional reporting by Kittipong Thaicharoen; Editing by Alan
Raybould and Ron Popeski)