Thailand’s military regime has given Dawei development the go-ahead, saying the project will help to smooth investment between Thailand and Burma (officially known as Myanmar).
The National Council for Peace and Order has agreed that development of the project should proceed as scheduled, said Perames Vudthitornetiraks, vice-president of the Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency and director of Dawei SEZ Development (DSEZ).
A 50:50 joint venture registered in Thailand, DSEZ is a special-purpose vehicle with a 75-year concession from the Burmese government to develop the special economic zone and a deep-sea port, replacing Italian-Thai Development Plc, which had received the concession from Burma in November 2010.
“Myanmar wants to push the project forward swiftly, as it has been stalled for a long while,” Mr Perames said.
“In comparison, the Thilawa Special Economic Zone, a joint venture between Myanmar and Japan, is moving ahead at a rapid pace.”
The terms of reference (ToR) for the first-phase bidding of the Dawei project are set to be drafted next month, with potential investors to become clearer in October.
The first phase, located on one-fifth of the Dawei project’s total area, will include roads, a port and industrial estates.
The Dawei project, located in eastern Burma, has been delayed since ousted Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved parliament last December.
A source recently said Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) would soon report on updated development to the junta and ask for guidelines on whether and how to proceed.
Two consultancies have also been hired to revise the ToR to make the project more attractive to foreign investors.
Under the original schedule, DSEZ had planned to open the bidding for three construction jobs this past February and announce the results this month.
NESDB secretary-general Arkhom Termpittayapaisith warned that the project would prove difficult to develop if the Burmese and Thai governments failed to invest in infrastructure and utilities.
Normally, investment in megaprojects or large industrial towns is handled by the government.
The state invests in utilities and infrastructure while offering privileges to persuade the private sector to set up factories.
Thailand and Burma last November officially agreed to push the ambitious scheme forward.
This article was first published in the Bangkok Post on 21 August 2014.