The Songkhla Chamber of Commerce is prepare to work with the state and private sectors to support and develop the Sadao border area into a special economic zone.
The special economic zone plan is part of the National Council for Peace and Order’s first-phase preparation for the Asean Economic Community in 2015, and along with Sadao it involves fourth other border areas – Tak’s Mae Sot district, Trat’s Khlong Yai district, Sa Kaew’s Aranyaprathet district, Songkhla’s Sadao district and Mukdahan.
It is hoped the establishment of the five special economic zones will boost border trade, which currently stands at over Bt 1 trillion annually, or 15 per cent of Thailand’s total trade volume.
The 10-12 per cent border-trade growth in the first five months of this year helped offset the 1.2 per cent decline in exports in that same period.
It is hoped the economic zones will contribute to Thailand’s economic development, national stability, boost the country’s competitiveness, promote employment, improve the standard of living, curb the influx of illegal labour and agricultural goods from neighbouring countries, and alleviate congestion along the border areas.
Songkhla Governor Thamrong Chareonkul and Songkhla Chamber of Commerce chairman Somporn Siriponanond are ready to support and develop Sadao as an economic zone.
They believe doing so should benefit Songkhla in terms of infrastructure development and dealing with the foreign labour shortage in the area.
Somporn said the economic zones could not be developed into one uniformed format, as each zone should fit with its own geographical, social, economic, cultural and religious beliefs – especially in Sadao, where there was a mixture of Buddhists, Muslims and Chinese.
Somporn said the development of Sadao must be done in parallel with tourism and industrial development, while Padang Besar had been designated as the district’s cultural centre.
The private sector would help push for the construction of a dual-track railway system and obtain support from local communities in order to proceed with this NCPO objective.
The Songkhla Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed Malay-Chinese Chamber of Commerce delegates from four Malaysian states.
Somporn said the delegates welcomed the plan to develop Sadao as it would facilitate trade, investment and infrastructure projects in the area.