September 25, 2012 00:00
By Piyanart Srivalo
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is scheduled to meet Myanmar President Thein Sein in New York tomorrow to discuss the progress of cooperation between the two governments over Myanmar's Dawei deep-sea port project.
The meeting is marked for 3pm on the sidelines of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, which both leaders are attending.
Thailand and Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding during Thein Sein’s visit in late July that changed the status of the mega- project from a government-to-private-sector to a government-to-government basis.
Yingluck’s trip to Myanmar has been postponed twice this month – first from September 13 to 15 and later from September 19 to 21. She was expected to lead a high-ranking Thai team to follow up on the Dawei cooperation, but Nay Pyi Taw did not endorse either itinerary proposed by Thai authorities.
Late last month, the government sent a team of high-ranking officials including Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangkatekaew and National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) secretary-general Arkom Termpitayapaisit to Dawei to make preparations for a high-profile meeting between the two leaders.
Last week, Yingluck met with Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul, Transport Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan and Deputy Transport Minister Chatchart Sithipan to prepare for her possible meeting with Thein Sein in New York, a Government House source said.
Yingluck will be in the US city until Saturday.
The Dawei project was initiated by Thai construction firm Italian-Thai Development, which signed an MoU with Myanmar’s Port Authority in 2008. The 10-year project includes deep-sea ports, heavy industries, office buildings and commercial areas.
The company was awarded a contract, the first phase of which was worth about US$8.6 billion (Bt270 billion). The entire project could be worth $58 billion or more.
After Myanmar began opening its doors to foreign investment early this year, this mega-project came into the spotlight, drawing interest from several countries.
Italian-Thai’s contract for developing the industrial estate in the Dawei Special Economic Zone was eventually scaled down from 250 to 200 square kilometres.