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Thai companies urged to invest in Burma

A sign showing the road leading to Thailand is seen near Dawei in southern Burma, close the site of the Thai-backed special economic zone and deep-sea port, on 19 November 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

The Thai private sector is being urged to set up industrial estates or special economic zones (SEZs) in Burma as the neighbouring country emerges as a magnet for foreign investment.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Friday at a seminar on Thailand-­Burma cooperation in Rangoon that Thai investors should pay more attention to Burma as a destination for investment, as the country is making large strides on its labour competitiveness and rich raw materials.

He said Thai investors should thinking about establishing industrial estates in Burma in order to further Thai investments or investments from other countries that are expected to flood into Burma after the establishment of the new government.

“Myanmar under the new government is more open to foreign investment, while the government itself is committed to improving and upgrading its domestic regulations and investment laws to facilitate private investment,” Somkid said during his four­day visit to Burma, which began Thursday.

“It is a good time for Thai investors to invest in Myanmar, and government units such as the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand should team up with private firms to develop SEZs in Myanmar.”

According to Somkid, the Thai government is ready to negotiate with its Burmese counterparts to upgrade industrial estates to SEZs if any Thai investors agree to establish the industrial estates there.

In the meantime, Somkid said the Thai government is also committed to going ahead with plans to develop SEZs in Mae Sot in Tak province to parallel the SEZ in Burma’s Myawaddy.

He said the new economic corridor covering India, Burma, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam will also create prosperity among those countries.

Thailand and Burma on Thursday agreed to pursue logistics development in Burma, aiming to bolster connectivity from India and Vietnam to Thailand.

The two governments also agreed to continue the Dawei development projects.

WHA’s chief executive and vice­chairman Jareeporn Jarukornsakul said WHA is conducting feasibility studies on establishing an industrial estate in Burma, which will conclude next year.

Vikrom Kromadit, chief executive of industrial estate developer Amata Corporation Plc, said the group has visited Burma several times and sees the neighbouring country as a proper venue for Thai investment, particularly due to the low wages and efficiency of Burmese workers.

Burma’s location also enables shipments to India, Africa, the Middle East and countries farther west.

Burma is also the richest country in ASEAN in terms of natural resources — especially in oil, gas and coal — and it is the only ASEAN country that borders both China and India, Vikrom said.

This story was originally published by the Bangkok Post here.