Thai-Myanmar border crossing pints set to be increased
The 22nd ASEAN Summit took place in the Brunei capital Bandar Seri Begawan in early May and apart from the usual series of general discussions between the 10 nation members, one specifically important piece of news to emerge was the agreement between Thailand and Myanmar to significantly upgrade three border crossing points.
These three points will be improved and upgraded to facilitate greater economic trade between the two nations, with the agreement taking place at the highest level, between Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Myanmar President Thein Sein.
The three border crossings designated to be upgraded to international level are at Three Pagodas Pass in Kanchanaburi province, which leads to Phayatongsu town in Myanmar; Ban Nam Phu Ron, also in Kanchanaburi province, which links with Myanmar’s Tiki town; and Singkorn checkpoint in Prachuap Khiri Khan province which leads to Mortong town in Myanmar.
There are currently three main points for border crossings between Myanmar and Thailand, at Mae Sai and Mae Hong Son in the north and Ranong in the south. Yet none of these are what would be termed ‘international’ crossing points as those who travel between the two countries are basically restricted to staying within a designated area and cannot travel further into either country. Of course, foreigners who may exit Myanmar and enter Thailand at these points are able to move about freely, but the numbers who do this are relatively small.
The Singkorn checkpoint had been due to open officially around 10 May, but this was delayed.
The three new border crossings, all of which are located in much easier access points into Thailand that may well have been slated for upgrade because of their proximity to take advantage of the work taking place in the Dawei deepwater port development area, should prove a boon for both locals and international travellers.
The Dawei deepwater port development is a joint exercise between Myanmar and Thailand, with both countries expecting to reap strong economic benefits from its completion.
At the ASEAN summit Prime Minister Shinawatra told President Thein Sein that Thailand had finished drafting a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) shareholder agreement and wanted the Myanmar side to consider its proposals. The SPV would set up the framework for the management and operation of the Dawei port.
Talks are expected to take place between representatives of Thailand and Myanmar in June to discuss financing and investment issues for the project. Japan would also be invited to participate in these discussions.