Abhisit expected the Dawei port would create jobs and reduce migrants to Thailand

More migrant offices to open: Abhisit
By Nyunt Win Myanmar Times May 9 – 15, 2011

THAILAND plans to accelerate the registration process of undocumented migrant workers from neighbouring countries, including Myanmar, Prime Minister Mr Abhisit Vejjajiva said last week.

Speaking on the sidelines of the two-day Publish Asia 2011 conference held in Bangkok last month, Mr Abhisit told The Myanmar Times his government planned to open more registration offices on Thai soil, which would make it more convenient for migrant workers to complete the process.

“We want to expedite … the issue of the identification of nationality process, which [in] previous times had to take place on the Myanmar side of the border,” Mr Abhisit said on April 28. “But now we have had an agreement with them [Myanmar authorities] that it can be conducted on this side of the border.”

The Thai government had set a February 2011 deadline for migrant workers to enter the verification process but Mr Abhisit said another round of registrations would be necessary, as many were still working illegally.

“We should speed up the backlog of 500,000 to 600,000 that still need to go through the process,” he said. “And we will agree to go through a new round of registration because we believe that the number of Myanmar migrant workers here in Thailand is around two million.”

According to the Thai Ministry of Labour, about 1.3 million migrants from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos have so far registered for the program. However, as of February, only 845,139 temporary passports had been issued.

Mr Abhisit said he expected the Dawei deepsea port, being developed near the Tanintharyi Region capital of Dawei, would create job opportunities for local people and in turn reduce the number of migrants to Thailand.

“We want to link up with that port. I have already approved the upgrading [of] highways and also rail links so that not only will [there] be opportunities for Thai businessmen but also we hope that [the project] will create a number of jobs in Myanmar, which in itself will help reduce pressure [on Thailand from] migrant workers.”

Late last month, Mr Abhisit’s office released a directive stating that illegal migrant workers would have more time to register for the process. Illegal workers detained by the authorities would be encouraged to register for a temporary passport and avoid being deported.

Migrant workers are a contentious and politically charged issue in Southeast Asia and governments in the region have struggled to reach a formal agreement on the rights they should be afforded. Many work illegally and suffer discrimination at the hands of both employers and local officials. At the same time, they are often resented by their adopted communities.

In early April, organisations under the Taskforce on ASEAN Migrant Workers, a group that lobbies for the rights of migrant workers, called on leaders to establish a regional framework that legally binds ASEAN countries to address the issue, The Jakarta Post reported last month.

“Of the 600 million people in ASEAN, 56 percent work in the informal sector. Hence an instrument that legally grants protection for informal workers is crucial. Talks on economic integration in the region will in no way be effective without protecting migrant workers,” Mr Sinapan Samydorai, the taskforce’s regional director, was quoted as saying.

The newspaper reported that ASEAN nations had so far been unable to sign a formal agreement because of the different political interests of each member state.

The drafting of an ASEAN Framework Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers was commenced at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur in December 2009, but negotiations have been stalled since then.An ASEAN senior officials’ meeting in Yogyakarta in March also failed to produce an agreement because the four big receiving states – Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei – were reluctant to touch on it, The Jakarta Post said.

In addition to the migrant workers issue, Mr Abhisit also highlighted the importance of regional cooperation in combating drug and human trafficking.

“We continue to suffer from the drug problem and again a lot of that still involves movements across the borders so we will seek cooperation from all our neighbours to help deal with this problem, which is a common problem for us,” he said.

“[The] human trafficking issue is more complicated … we are dealing with all the sending countries, receiving countries and countries where these people are in transition,” the prime minister said.

When asked about his position on Myanmar’s application for the ASEAN chair in 2014, Mr Abhisit said ASEAN was an organisation that worked by consensus and it was up to the 10-member bloc to decide whether to allow Myanmar to become the chair. ASEAN leaders were expected to discuss the issue at the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta on May 7 and 8 but Mr Abhisit said he did not know whether that would happen.

“I don’t know whether we’ll discuss it. I don’t know how they will work it out,” he said.

Thai media recently reported that the government planned to repatriate more than 100,000 Myanmar refugees living in camps along the Thai-Myanmar border, following the swearing in of a new government in late March. Rights groups have called on Thailand not to send the inhabitants of the refugee camps back until stability has been restored and their safe return is guaranteed.

Mr Abhisit said because Myanmar had a new government there was a window of opportunity for change and it might eventually be possible for those displaced in fighting to return to the country safely.

“We should be monitoring how much change takes place. Therefore it only makes sense to talk about preparation for those people to return,” he said. “It is not going to be an easy process. That’s not going to be a quick process. We need to start to think about these kinds of issues and make some preparations.”

Mr Abhisit also reiterated his government’s vow to not allow ethnic armed groups to carry out anti-Myanmar government activities on Thai soil.

“We support efforts to achieve reconciliation. We won’t allow any group to use Thailand to engage in [anti-government] activities that will [harm] the fragile security of our neighbouring country. If there is fighting, people are displaced.”

Dawei Port :'to become trade corridor'

4 May 2011 Last updated at 23:50 GMT Share this pageEmailPrint
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New Burma port ‘to become trade corridor’
The attempt to bridge the River Kwai using Allied prisoners of war remains a notorious example of World War II cruelty and of the difficulties in crossing the Thai-Burmese border. The BBC’s Vaudine England has been finding out why a Thai company is blasting 20 tunnels through the same mountains.

The Thai government says the project will provide a new trade lane between East and West
Ital-Thai Development, Thailand’s half-century old construction firm, is building a deep-sea port linked to an industrial estate, with oil and gas pipelines, roads and railways on 40,000 hectares in Dawei, previously called Tavoy, in southern Burma.

The project will cost up to $10bn (£6.2bn) and offer hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Its builders say the Dawei Development Project will change the shape of world trade.

A port on the south-western edge of mainland South East Asia would allow goods which are currently shipped from China, southwards around Singapore and through the Malacca Straits, to reach Suez and Europe by skipping a whole loop of sea travel.

But sceptics point out that under Burma’s military rule, residents in the area have little choice but to lose their land – and the largest economic benefits will go as usual to the project’s Burmese military partners.

‘Trade lane’
The Dawei contract, which gives a 75-year concession, was signed between Ital-Thai and the Burmese government on 2 November last year – just five days before elections organised by the military, and after only eight months of serious negotiations.

The investors will not be drawn on exactly how much progress has been made on the road, what clients had been attracted or even on who their Burmese partner might be. But that has not stopped them making some bold claims.

Key to the project’s inception is what Thailand’s Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot calls its “connectivity”.

“It is going to be the international trade lane for the East and the West,” Mr Alongkorn said.

“It’s going to be one of the biggest projects and investments in South East Asia within a decade, but it will [provide] benefits for all, not only Asean (the Association of South East Asian Nations) but in South Asia, in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, and also East Asia and Asia-Pacific,” he said.

As such, Dawei carries echoes of a century-old plan, never implemented, to build the Kra Canal – a Panama-like shipping channel across the long narrow peninsula which is home to southern Thailand and north Malaysia.

Somchet Thinapong says his company has faith in the Burmese political leadership
Somchet Thinapong, managing director of the project at Ital-Thai Development, described the Kra idea as “basic logistic flow”.

The new project, he said, combined logistic flow with what he called “a strategic production base”.

Both Mr Alongkorn and Mr Thinapong point to Burma’s accession to the Asean Economic Community idea, meant to be implemented by 2015.

They predict the passing of a law to create Special Economic Zones, just as China once did to create what is now the economic powerhouse of the south Chinese coast.

‘Trust and confidence’
The project’s designers say the nature of the Burmese state, where decades of military rule have recently given way to a nominally civilian administration, is a good thing.Somchet

“That’s one part of what I like about [the] army’s line…,” said Mr Somchet. “When [the] army rules and if they know what they’re doing, it seems that they get job done, you see,” he said.

Describing the system as “highly comfortable to deal with”, he said he did not expect political issues to impact on the project’s development.

“We have faith, trust and confidence in the leadership that we did not expect to have …the project can go on. Nothing political,” he said.

The deputy commerce minister, Mr Alongkorn, praised what he called the development of democracy in Burma. “We try to separate our economic co-operation [from] politics,” he said.

Political risk
But other commentators have suggested the deal represents an unacceptably high level of political risk even when, as in many Asian countries, there are few legal impediments to doing business with Burma.

“Burma’s government is a very unreliable partner. The macro-economy is just far too volatile, and the government far too unpredictable and arbitrary in its decision making,” Professor Sean Turnell, an expert on Burma’s political economy, told the BBC.

Other concerns are that the prospective highway goes through a major insurgency area, and the project will be home to companies restricted at other industrial estates in Thailand, where environmental campaigns have restricted business activities.

The Bangkok Post has described Darwei as the 21st century version of Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard development, adding: “By moving to Burma they can leave behind the environmental problems.”

“Such a project has great potential,” said Prof Turnell. “Burma is desperately short of functioning infrastructure in all sorts of areas.”

But, “in order for such outlets to be truly transformative, more profound institutional reforms will be required in Burma in order to revitalise the economy,” he added.
Source http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12490521

Dawei Port Sepcial Economic Zone has got its unique legislation

HOT on the heels of the January 27 promulgation of the Myanmar Special Economic Zone (SEZ) law, comes a set of laws specific to Dawei, which is likely to become the nation’s first SEZ.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone laws were published in the Union of Myanmar Gazette, a government-run newspaper, on February 18 but news of the announcement has taken weeks to filter down through government officials, business associations and the private media.

“I’d heard that the government had enacted specific laws for the coming Dawei SEZ [in Tanintharyi Region] but I have not read them and our research department has not seen them either. However, I expect that the two laws should be more or less the same,” said Dr Maung Maung Lay, secretary general of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI).

Like the national SEZ laws, the Dawei laws also include 12 chapters: Titles and Definitions; Objectives; Dawei Special Economic Zone; Formation of Central Body; Central Working Body and Management Committees relating to the Dawei Special Economic Zone and Functions and Duties thereof; Special Privileges of Investors; Specific Duties of Developers or Investors; Land use; Banks and Finance Management and Insurance Business; Management and Inspection of Commodities by Customs Department; Quarantine Inspection and Confinement so as not to spread Contagious Diseases; Matters relating to Labour and Miscellaneous.

Chapter Three outlines the various industries that are to be established at the SEZ, including high technology, information and telecommunication, export products, seaport area, support and forwarding, science and technological research and development, services, sub-trading, as well as other zones prescribed by the Central Body as it sees fit.

The laws also establish a chain of command for the zone, with the SEZ chairman directly responsible to the president.

U Zaw Min Win, UMFCCI’s vice president, said that he had heard that the Dawei SEZ chairman would be given broad powers by the government in order to make the running of the site as efficient as possible.

“I’ve heard that the SEZ chairman would report to the president [U Thein Sein], without going through any ministry, to save time,” he said.

He added that the chairman would have similar authority to that of a government minister.

Mr Suphap Satthatham, the project engineer of Italian-Thai Development (ITD), the Thai firm responsible for building the enormous 250-square-kilometre, $50-billion-plus site, said in early February that the Myanmar workers had chosen to cease work of their own accord.

“Our Myanmar workers just stopped. We’re waiting for new employees,” he said.

By Aye Thidar Kyaw  – Myanmar Times
March 21 – 27, 2011

http://www.mmtimes.com/2011/business/567/biz56702.html

Dawei Port : Environmental Impact Analysis and Social Impact Analysis

NGOs in Myanmar are gearing up to collectively endeavor to assess the Environmental and Social Impact of Special Economic Zones especially the Dawei Port – according to one report from Myanmar Times. The report highlight the fact that some NGOs backed by super powers have their own agenda in assessing and reporting in their analysis because the financial support will force them to bias in their assessment results.

Although the works at special economic zone in Dawei are suspended by the main contractor – Italian-Thai Development Co., companies vying for the business spun from this Huge Deep Sea Port are hurdling night and day along with the NGOs. UMFCCI – the Chamber of Commerce body of Myanmar also report receipt of average 2 inquiries daily about this Dawei Port. The interested parties are led by Korea and then by Japan and China according to one official from UMFCCI.

Who will benefit from the Dawei industrial zone?

The Burmese people have heard it all before. Back during the era of
the Burmese Way of Socialism, a big fuss was made about plans for
Japanese shopping malls to be set up in Burma. They never
materialized.

Then in the 1990s, people heard news about a planned Japanese
Industrial Park destined to be built in Rangoon. It was never
implemented.

At one point, much debate surrounded the plan for the setting up of
the Thilawa Special Economic Zone. Despite all the discussions, no
progress has been made with this project, although there is some
evidence of people investing in real estate around the port.

Now the big news highlighted by Burmese private media is the plan for
the Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and deep sea port. This is a
10-year project involving Thailand and Burma totalling US$ 58 billion,
with the first phase costing US$ 8 billion. Interestingly, in the hot
discussions about the project, environmental and employment issues top
the agenda. The Burmese people and the media have become more aware of
environmental issues following the devastation and suffering wreaked
by Cyclone Nargis.

In the debate on the pros and cons of the Dawei SEZ, questions have
been raised as to whether co-investor Thailand is seeking to export
its environmentally damaging industries to Burma to avoid tougher
pollution standards at home. Others voice concern about the financial
investment involved in such a project and whether the profits will
benefit Burma, although the hyper-project will create jobs for the
Burmese. Only a few commentators believe it will bring economic
development to the country. Some optimists paint it as a win-win game
for Burma, but admit that the bigger winner will be Thailand.

In short, the lack of concrete information on the Dawei SEZ indicates
a lack of transparency from Burmese government, low trust in the
commitment and capability of government officials, and insufficient
safeguards and rules to protect the Burmese and their land. Concern
has been voiced that the Burmese generals will employ companies that
are close to them such as Htoo and IGE and that public funds will be funnelled into the
deep pockets of the oligarchs.

If––and this is a big if––and when the credibility of the government’s
oversight of this project is made transparent, so that the Burmese
people can have confidence in the project, then further development
projects may be more readily welcomed by the people.
AUTHOR : Zun Khaung

Zaw Zaw Reportedly Gets Dawei Port Contract (Free 7 Days News Journal offer below!!!)

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Zaw Zaw of Max is reported to have won a construction project at Dawei Port (www.daweiport.com), a US $8.6 billion project mainly financed by neighboring Thailand.
Max Zaw Zaw and Tay Za - teza, tayza of Htoo Trading Treasure aurium palaceZaw Zaw (standing) and Tay Za (seated) at a party in Rangoon in 2009. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

Business sources in Rangoon said Zaw Zaw’s Max Myanmar Group of Companies got a green light from the top military for building Burma’s largest port and industrial area.

“Even the top tycoon, Tay Za, has said that Zaw Zaw could be richer than him,” said a source, adding that Zaw Zaw has became very close to Than Shwe and other top generals, and the junta head warmly calls him “Phoe Zaw,” a nickname used for a near family member. Zaw Zaw was chosen as the Man of the year 2010 by 7Days Journal.

During the trip Than Shwe visited the Shenzhen economic zone. Than Shwe said that he wanted the Dawei port project to be like the Shenzhen economic zone, the International Herald Tribune quoted the president of the Italian-Thai Development conglomerate as saying.

The Dawei Port project was approved by the junta on Nov. 2 in Naypyidaw. The junta’s Secretary-1 ex-Gen Tin Aung Myint Oo witnessed the signing ceremony between Thailand’s Italian-Thai Development Co Ltd and the Myanma Port Authority.

However, The New Light of Myanmar reported at the time that the two country’s agreed on the Dawei deep seaport, industrial estate and road and rail link to Thailand during a meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on May 19, 2008, shortly after the Cyclone Nargis disaster.

The project, which will cover 250-square kilometers, is to be implemented in three phases over a 10-year period and is “the first-ever special economic zone in Myanmar,” according to Burmese media reports.

Reports in the international press have expressed concern that the port project would damage the environment and lead to forced relocation in the project area. The International Herald Tribune on Friday quoted Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as saying, “Some industries are not suitable to be located in Thailand. That is why they decided to set it up there.”
By WAI MOE Monday, November 29, 2010
Source : The Irrawaddy

Dawei Deep Sea Port, Industrial Estate and Transborder Corridor Link

We now have a dedicated web site for Dawei Port : http://www.daweiport.com

Dawei – Myeik Map www.magadotravel.com

February 2, 2011 Trip to Dawei Port : Ranong-Kawthaung-Myeik-Dawei Package

Dawei Tourism Information : TourismMyanmar.com Dawei Tourism

Myanmar is yet to see its largest international Industrial Zone in Dawei and the news about this new deep sea port and industrial zone are coming out from street. The 8 billion dollar project seemed to be floating amidst political play and bank loans.

After signing the MOU with Secretary 1 of Myanmar, Italian-Thai, the dawei deep sea port’s main developer is heard to have been looking for sizable partner but ADB, Karsikon Bank and the likes. Most of the banks shun Italian-Thai as the economic sanctions are still in place and the support of major shipping and manufacturers are doubtful. Just when the Chinese support becomes the main and most viable option, the Chinese have different ideas. They are more willing to deal direct with Myanmar Government who is favouring Chinese connection these days.

The future of Dawei Port is bleak while the deep sea port at Kyauk Phyu is like an awakening giant. Therefore turn of tide may be more favourable for Kyauk Phyu Deep Sea Port while Dawei has to wait a bit more.

Ksny
2011 Jan 2.

Following Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva visit to Myanmar on October 12th, Italian Thai Development Pcl is hopeful once again to sign a contract for a deep-sea port project with Myanmar Port Authority by the end of November 2010.The Dawei port project, with an estimated value of about 400 billion baht ($13 billion), will include a Special Economic Zone, Industrial Estate, railway, roads, a refinery and a steel mill.

The main obstacle in concluding the deal is the challenge to reach an agreement on who and how will this Special Zone be managed. Italian Thai want to develop everything while paying Myanmar Government the land lease only. Myanmar on the other hand want to involve in managing the Zone for further benefits to the generals.

Abhisit also conveyed to the generals international concerns over the upcoming Nov. 7 vote, but they shrugged them off.

According to a spokesman for the Thai prime minister, the generals replied that Burma is accustomed to holding elections and that they know what they would have to do for the benefit of the people.

Thailand and Burma have agreed to jointly develop a deep-sea port at Dawei on Burma’s Andaman Sea coast linked to a new economic zone, Abhisit said, according to Thai media.

The Thai prime minister also said he has been assured by his Burmese counterpart that a key Thai-Burmese border point at Myawaddy-Mae Sot will reopen soon.

An agreement signed during the trip includes construction of 100-mile (160-kilometer) road and rail links between Kanchanaburi in western Thailand and the Dawei port, as well as a special economic zone to be built on a 100,000-acre (40,500-hectare) plot near the port, reports said.

About 200km Myeik-Mawtaung new road under construction between Thailand and Myanmar will become one of the major features of enhancing cross-border trade between both countries. The majority of the road will be done by Yuzana Group – led by Htay Myint who will be competing in the upcoming election under Union Solidarity and Development Association Party.

Earlier, ITD senior executive Nijaporn Charanachitta told reporters
“We should sign the contract with Myanmar Port Authority later this month or next,” adding the election in the country on Nov. 7 should not affect the signing and should be positive for the project.

Analysts say the project in the Tanintharyi region of Myanmar, first mooted a decade ago, could secure a firm source of revenue for Italian-Thai for at least 10 years.

Sources : Myanmar Times October 18-24, 2010
Reuters , 7 Oct. 2010
Myanmar Post
7Days News Journal

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/burma/port-10132010175956.html

http://www.toboc.com/tradenews/Thailand-Gears-Up-To-Enhance-Trade-With-A-Democratic-Myanmar/1569.aspx

www.TourismMyanmar.com/dawei(tavoy).htm
Dawei Port Website – www.daweiport.com