Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Burma’s President Thein Sein will discuss the Dawei deep-sea port project in New York on the sidelines of the UN 67th General Assembly meeting on Thursday.
|Burmese President Thein Sein and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra review an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at Government House in Bangkok on July 23, 2012. Photo: AFP|
Last week, Reuters news agency reported that Thai banks would keep the project afloat with short-term loans until an expected Japanese loan of up to US$ 3.2 billion can be secured.
Thailand's largest construction firm, Italian-Thai Development Pcl, signed a deal in 2010 to build a deep-sea port and Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in southern Burma’s coastal Dawei region.
But the project foundered, as the Thai builder failed to secure $8.5 billion to finance construction of its first phase – roads, utilities and a port.
“Italian-Thai has had difficulty in mobilizing the funding. So now the Thai government has effectively taken over the project,” Thaung Lwin, chairman of the Dawei SEZ told Reuters. “The next step is to invite Japan,” which he said is committed to seeing the project succeed.
Two trips by Yingluck to Burma have been postponed since she and Thein Sein met in Thailand in August to discuss the project.
Last week, Yingluck met with Thai Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul, Transport Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan and Deputy Transport Minister Chatchart Sithipan to prepare for her possible meeting with Thein Sein in New York, a Government House source said, according to the Bangkok Post. Officials have reportedly been seeking various governments and international lending groups to take a stake in the project.
The Thai construction firm Italian-Thai Development, which singed a MoU with Burma in 2008, initiated the Dawei project. The 10-year project includes deep-sea ports, heavy industries, office buildings and commercial areas.
The company was awarded a contract, the first phase of which was worth about $8.6 billion.
Italian-Thai's contract for developing the industrial estate in the Dawei Special Economic Zone was eventually scaled down from 250 to 200-square kilometers.