Thailand, VN jointly developing Southern Economic Corridor

Economy May 28, 2013 00:00

By Nakarin Srilert
The Nation

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Thailand and Vietnam have joined forces to develop the 900-kilometre R10 route, or Southern Economic Corridor, to support growing opportunities in trade, investments and tourism, link southern Vietnam to Dawei in Myanmar, and facilitate distribution of go



With loans from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Thai government, the renovated R10 economic corridor is expected to be ready by 2015.
Panpimon Suwannapongse, the Thai consul-general to Ho Chi Minh City, who recently met with high-ranking executives from southern Vietnam and Thailand’s east-coast provinces, said the R10 route would link those two areas and Cambodia. The 13 provinces of southern Vietnam, within the Mekong River Delta, make up an abundant agricultural-goods and fishing region, a major source of revenue for Vietnam and the site of future infrastructure projects, including the country’s next major deep-sea port. 
Charoen Pokphand Foods has set up a successful shrimp farm in Ca Mau province. Such projects help foster relations and serve as a platform for future business opportunities. 
The R10 route will help link Thailand seafood producers with the abundant raw materials in Vietnam, as well as transport of goods throughout that region, according to an executive of Surint Omya Chemicals (Vietnam)  who has more than 20 years of business experience in Vietnam. 
Pen Sitha, deputy director of Sihanoukville Port, said Cambodia was planning its sixth deep-sea-port project to accommodate large vessels, facilitate cargo shipments and support future economic and trade expansion. This project will cost about US$90 million (Bt2.7 billion) and will commence next year, with completion expected in 2017. 
Pham Thanh Toui, chairman of a residents’ committee in Ca Mau, hopes Thailand and Vietnam can jointly develop direct land and sea links to facilitate transport of goods between Ca Mau and Thailand’s Tak province in the near future. This would bypass the current indirect route through Cambodian ports, followed by land transport thereafter. The lower costs via this direct route would benefit Thai exports to Vietnam. A feasibility study of this project memorandum of understanding between Ca Mau and Tak will likely follow, Pham Thanh Toui said.
 With loans from the ADB, Vietnam plans to complete the renovation and expansion of the R10 route to facilitate tourism, social and cultural exchanges among Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia by 2015, Pham Thanh Toui added. 
Furthermore, Kien Giang province would like Thailand and Vietnamese state tourism agencies to help publicise tourist attractions along the R10 route through cooperation in tourism related activities and businesses, exchange of information and personnel. 
In addition, the promotion of tourism activities via boat services between the port of Phu Quoc island  in Kien Giang province and Laem Singh port, Chantaburi province, is another area that must be promoted and developed, especially a professional boat-service operator and management firm, Mai Van Huynh said.
According to Chutathip Chareonlarp, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s office in Ho Chi Minh City, TAT and Vietnam have an agreement to promote and expand tourism between the two countries every year, with the aim to achieve two-way volume of 1 million visitors by 2015. The R10 route will help facilitate growth of tourism business and related activities through the cooperation of three nations (Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand) and joint public relations campaigns to promote tourism on the R10 route on a continuing basis. 
Customs processing is another area the three countries of the R10 economic corridor must improve to boost trade, distribution of goods, and tourism. 
The joint development efforts of the Southern Economic Corridor are a major area of interest ahead of the Asean Economic Community’s implementation in 2015, as they will boost the expansion of major cities along or near the route as well as supporting infrastructure and cooperation between the public and private sector on a long-term basis.