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A key border checkpoint between Thailand and Burma whose closure in July last year has severely hampered cross-border trade has reopened.
As of today, business will resume at the crossing connecting Thailand’s Mae Sot to the Burmese town of Myawaddy. The decision by the Burmese to close the Friendship Bridge is thought to have cost Thailand around $US2.7 million per day in lost trade.
Reasons for the closure varied, with some citing anger in Naypyidaw about what it saw as attempts by Thai authorities to reroute the Moei river, while speculation also arose about Thailand’s alleged sheltering of anti-Burmese government armed groups.
The reopening was announced on Saturday by Wuthi Sithisurat, the deputy governor of Thailand’s Tak province, which borders Burma.
Thailand’s countrywide border trade generates around $US4.3 billion each year for the developing economy, nearly a quarter of which goes through Mae Sot.
Tak governor Samart Loifah said in July this year that the Burmese government had been pressuring authorities in Mae Sot to evict anti-Naypyidaw rebels from the Karen National Liberation Army believed to shelter in the town.
It echoed similar remarks he made in March when he relayed concerns of the Burmese government that towns along the Thai border had become KNLA “enclaves”.