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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid