Thailand offers $51m highway upgrade, as trade mission boosts bilateral ties

Myanmar has approved a proposal for Thailand to pay for a US$51 million upgrade to a section of the main highway linking the two countries, the Bangkok Post reported on February 4.

The proposal involves a 68-kilometre section of road between Thaton in Mon State and Eindu in Kayin State, Thai Transport Minister Mr Arkhom Termpittayapaisith was quoted as saying after returning from a visit to Myanmar.

The Thai cabinet had on January 31 endorsed a plan to spend 1.8 billion baht (about K70 billion) to help Myanmar upgrade the stretch of road, on the proposed East-West Economic Corridor transport route, the newspaper said.

Arkhom said Myanmar also wanted Thailand’s assistance to upgrade more roads on the EWEC, an ambitious project to link Vietnam with India via Myanmar, Thailand and Laos.

Thailand contributed towards the upgrade of another section of the highway in Kayin that was inaugurated in August 2015 at a ceremony at the border town of Myawaddy, opposite Thailand’s Mae Sot.

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Among those at the ceremony was the Thai Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Somkid Jatusripitak, who returned to Myanmar early this month as head of a business delegation that has made a big contribution to efforts to strengthen bilateral business ties.

Media reports said the two countries signed 18 memorandums of understanding during the delegation’s visit from February 2 to 5.

Mr Panitarn Pavarolavidya, chairman of the Thai-Myanmar Business Council and deputy secretary-general of the Federation of Thai Industries, told the Bangkok Post that 16 of the MoUs were signed by the private sector.

The MoUs focused on small and medium-sized enterprises and trade development, infrastructure development, human-resources development and establishing a digital economy.

The two government MoUs signed during the visit were for an emergency department at Dawei General Hospital and on fishery cooperation.

The Thai delegation included Commerce Minister Ms Apiradi Tantraporn, who said the close strategic partnership between the two countries would help to double bilateral trade to $13 billion by the end of 2021, the Bangkok Post reported.

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