By The Nation
The Thai government is promoting the Mae Sot-Myawaddy development model as a bordertrade opportunity for the Thai private sector that could be extended to other neighbouring countries besides Myanmar.
Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said many Thai companies were supportive of the govฌernment’s policy to promote border trade and investment growth under the “Stronger Together” policy.
“Enterprises are showing high interest in trading and investing by way of the Mae SotMyawaddy crossing, and the Thai government has made this a pilot project for expanding border trade with neighbouring counฌtries,” she said.
Apiradi said the Mae Sot-Myawwaddy check point was the most important border crossฌing between Thailand and Myanmar. This status prompted its selection as a business model for the promotion of trade at other crossings.
In recognition of this, a bilateral trade promotion titled “Stronger Together” opened in Mae Sot, Tak province, in March for the first time. “Stronger Together” events will be organised at other border areas.
The government is developing an airport in Mae Sot, which is expected to be completed in two to five years, while the electricity supply will also increase to 200 kilowatts in five years, so that indusฌtrial plants planned for the area will be assured of adequate electrical power.
Moreover, more labour from Myanmar is expected to flow into the Mae Sot-Myawaddy area, as Myanmar has a high workingage population of more than 15 million. The logistics system is also under development, whereby the Mae Sot-Myawaddy area will be a gateฌway to connect Asean to India and other countries at lower cost than maritime transport.
Amnart Nantaharn, chairman of the Special Economic Zones Development in Tak Network, said Thai businesses were confident of trading and investing more in the area since the government has a concrete plan to support the development of the Mae Sot metropolis over the next two years.
“Mae Sot can be a gateway to connect Myawaddy, and [the rest of] Myanmar. The area could be developed into an industrial zone with value added so that Mae Sot could become like Macau and Hong Kong in the future,” he said.
Banpot Korkiatcharoen, adviser to the Tak Chamber of Commerce, said the Mae Sot Special Economic Zone was the easiest way to connect Thailand to Myanmar. Over the next few years, more transportation will be develฌoped.
The area could be a distribution centre and logistics hub.
Moreover, many tourists, especially the highincome group, are interested in visiting Mae Sot, either just to travel or to look for business opportunities. To facilitate more travelrelated investment, he called for the government to develop Mae Sot as taxfree area in the future.