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Last Updated:[13-10-2010 08:02:14 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Thailand Gears up to Enhance Trade with a Democratic Myanmar

tradenews About 200km Myeik-Mawtaung new road under construction between Thailand and Myanmar will become one of the major features of enhancing cross-border trade between both countries. On Monday, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva visited neighbouring Myanmar, ahead of general elections which is scheduled to be held on Nov 7 2010, the first in 20 years.

The Thai premier's one-day visit has culminated in co-operation between both sides in areas including hydropower, energy, mining, agriculture, industry and narcotic drug eradication. Thailand’s exports to Myanmar include textile, shoes, marine products, rice, rubber, jewellery, motor cars, computer and electronic accessories, and imports are forestry products, marine products, agricultural produces and natural gas.

At present, Thailand is Myanmar's chief trade partner but stands second in border trade – the new road, which is expected to be completed in three years will likely position the former as the number one in border trade too.

Besides the new road, Vejjajiva is reported to have agreed with his counterpart General U Thein Sein to jointly develop a deep-sea port at Dawei on Burma's Andaman Sea coast as a new economic zone. According to acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn, there are plans afoot to develop a route linking Kanchanaburi with Dawei, formerly known as Tavoy, as a western gateway to markets in Thailand.

During this fiscal, trade between Myanmar and Thailand amounted to $3.577bn, up 16. 2 percent from 2008-09. In two-way trade, Myanmar's exports to Thailand were about to $3.169bn while its imports from the Southeast Asian neighbour reached over $408mn, enjoying a trade surplus of $2. 761bn.

Next month's Myanmar elections will be without the main political party which won the last elections by a huge margin. The last election was held in 1990 in which the main opposition party, National League for Democracy (NLD) had won 392 of the 485 parliamentary seats. The NLD was not allowed by the military junta to take over and the results were ignored.

The NLD along with four other ethnic parties have been officially declared (by the election commission) as dissolved, for failing to register as a political party in accordance with the election laws for this election. Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD chief has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the dissolution of the NLD but it is unlikely to be decided in her favour.

By Jose Roy

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