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

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week 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.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid