News / Asia

Burmese, Thai Leaders Sign Agreement about Economic Zone

Burma President Thein Sein (R) and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (L) review the honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Bangkok, July 23, 2012.Burma President Thein Sein (R) and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (L) review the honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Bangkok, July 23, 2012.
x
Burma President Thein Sein (R) and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (L) review the honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Bangkok, July 23, 2012.
Burma President Thein Sein (R) and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (L) review the honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Bangkok, July 23, 2012.
Danielle Bernstein
BANGKOK — Burma President Thein Sein is in Thailand, where he signed several key economic agreements with Thailand’s prime minister. One of the projects, a long-planned deep sea port, still faces obstacles.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Burmese President Thein Sein signed three memorandums of understanding during the president's first trip to Thailand since he took office in 2010.

The agreements included a pledge of the Thai government to help the Burmese government prepare for its role when it assumes the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014.

Yingluck stressed to reporters that it was especially important to the Thai government that concrete progress be made on the Dawei deep sea port, a project in southern Burma that would allow ships traveling from the Indian Ocean to avoid the Malacca Straits.

She says the two sides agreed that there will be connectivity between the Dawei deep sea port with the Laem Chabang deep sea port in Thailand. She says they have also discussed the development of industrial areas in the Dawei area and development of the eastern seaboard on the Thai side.

ItalThai, the parent company of the project's main developer, has had trouble coming up with funds and MaxMyanmar, the Burmese conglomerate acting as a local implementing partner, shocked investors when it pulled out of the project last month.
Although the port could reduce traffic in the Malacca straits and provide China with an alternative route for oil transport, the benefits of the project to the Burmese economy are not as clear.

Sean Turnell of Australia's Macquarie University points out that Thailand's economy stands to benefit from the project more than Burma's. "All the advantages go to Thailand rather than to Burma. Because really this is about getting quick access to Bangkok and some of the manufacturing outlets of Thailand and natural resources and all sort of things into the country. It's on a tiny arm of Burma," said Turnell. "I mean it really involves really little in the way of Burma's industrial capacity, for instance, or access to Burmese markets."

Burma’s rice export industry has long sought a deep sea port to boost business. But the Dawei deep sea port is too far away from the Irrawaddy river basin, which contains Burma's richest farm land. Yingluck pledged to offer support for the Burmese rice industry, but did not offer specifics.

The two leaders also discussed possibilities for opening additional border crossings, cooperation in economic and infrastructure development, Burmese migrant labor in Thailand and the fight against narcotics.

Yingluck also welcomed the developments taking place in Burma under President Thein Sein's leadership.

Political and economic reforms under the Thein Sein government have lead to increased foreign investment, but rights groups are still quick to admonish the government for its human rights record.

The Burmese Rohingya Association of Thailand staged a protest Monday during the two leaders’ meeting, demanding the Yingluck government pressure Thein Sein to lift the state of emergency in Rakhine state, where ethnic and sectarian violence broke out last month between ethnic Rohingyas and ethnic Rakhines.

Benjamin Zawacki of Amnesty International says that the overall rights situation in Burma, also known as Myanmar, has gotten worse in the past year, despite the landmark political reforms.

"President Thein Sein simply asserts that Rohingyas are not citizens and then, regardless of their actual status, he's currently allowing security forces under the rubric of the state of emergency to commit violations against that ethnic minority. And ,I would point out that it's a glaring mark on the country's human rights record and certainly runs counter to the prevailing narrative that human rights are being improved in Myanmar, across the board."

President Thein Sein will be meeting leaders of the Burmese community in Thailand during a visit to the country's embassy Tuesday, before he returns home.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: jtauthail from: us
July 24, 2012 3:58 AM
any strengthening and unity of asean countries, no matter how tenuous is a very good thing

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs