By Sasithorn Ongdee
BIMSTEC (the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) comprises Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
Ranong Port, which is considered as deep-sea port but has yet to be utilised at full capacity, now can handle ships of up to 12,000 deadweight tons after being upgraded in 2006. But there are many other choices for gateways connecting Thailand and Myanmar.
"We expect to ride on the Asean Economic Community by means of rebuilding shipment volumes to and from Ranong Port, as it has high potential to connect with Myanmar and other countries in the BIMSTEC group," said Surapong Rongsirikul, deputy director-general of asset management and business development at PAT.
Speaking at a dinner talk on "Ranong Port, Pathway to Myanmar" on Wednesday night, Surapong told 200 businesspeople engaged in imports and exports that PAT had outlined its business plan to make the Ranong Port more attractive.
He said PAT had commissioned Thammasat University to study the feasibility of developing a distribution centre on 15 rai (2.4 hectares) of land at Bangkok Port to facilitate exporters and freight forwarders. The centre might include a dry port or duty-free zone or both. Those who wanted to ship products from Ranong Port could complete customs procedures at the dry port without needing to do so again at Ranong.
"This facility will help boost shipments to and from Ranong Port," he said.
If the study finds the idea feasible, PAT would launch the dry port and/or duty-free zone next year, before the Asean Economic Community is scheduled to take full effect at the end of 2015.
Surapong said PAT would also upgrade its 1,500-square-metre warehouse at Ranong Port to a bonded warehouse, which was in the registration process.
PAT has collaborated with SAK Co to provide shipping-line services on the Penang-Trang-Ranong sea route and expects to expand the route to Yangon Seaport by 2017, he said.
According to PAT’s data, the top 10 imports and exports at Ranong Customs Checkpoint between October 2013 and April this year accounted for Bt14.74 billion. Imports were worth Bt3.27 billion and included aquatic animals, steel products, drilling equipment, and mangrove charcoal. Exports were worth Bt11.47 billion, and the top items were fuels, lubricants, steel products, energy and soft drinks, cement, liquor, and instant coffee.