Article – Thailand to establish special economic zone on Myanmar border

3 February 2015
Martin Lowe
Thailand’s military-appointed government is launching special economic zones to stimulate trade and revive a lagging economy, with the first one on the Thai-Myanmar border.
Smuggling across the Moei River between Thailand and Myanmar is a way of life as drugs, timber, jade, and people make their way into Thailand on small boats. There’s also illegal trading in cigarettes and alcohol. At times it’s affected legal commerce between the two countries.
A crackdown by Thai authorities has seen a big reduction in criminal activity and is just one of the strategies of Thailand’s first special economic zone.
“Those who are acting illegally face strong punishment if they are caught and their goods will be seized,” Praphant Nasua company manager Prem Nasua said.
The economic zone would also increase visitors to Thailand and increase exports and imports, added Prapawadee Temjai-Charoen, the owner of the Heu Kaung Company.
“Thailand would earn more money and there would be more work for Thai people,” Temjai-Charoen said.
Temjai-Charoen ferries around $333,333 worth of produce across the river each year at Mae Sot. Bicycles are a major export to Myanmar while soy beans, red onions and chilis are brought in.
Trade between Thailand and Myanmar totaled $8 million last year and many see big potential for more.
“Myanmar is a very poor country and we have to start from the beginning,” Hla Shein of the Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce said. “The most important thing for us is to have investment in technology.”
Thailand plans to create about a dozen special economic zones that offer tax breaks and incentives to attract investment.
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Courtesy of CCTV

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