Bangkok, the 28th of July 2010: Following the closure of the Mae Sot-Myawaddy friendship bridge and 20 other locations on the 18th of July, Thai and Myanmar authorities have met to discuss the formulation of better communication lines between the two nations regarding border issues.
The Mae Sot border crossing, an integral part of Thai-Myanmar trade, was closed over issues regarding an ongoing environmental protection project along the Moei River. The development is believed to be adversely affecting the Myanmar riverbanks in the region.
The border crossing and ports were closed after repeated requests for the Thai ambassador to Myanmar to hold talks regarding the contentious development received no response from Thailand. Reportedly, the Thai-Myanmar Township Border Committee (TBC), setup to deal with such issues, attempted to avoid culpability over the project at both local and national levels.
Thailand’s Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot, who met with Myanmar officials on Wednesday, revealed that a proposal to reopen the key border crossing will be presented to the Myanmar government for consideration. Mr. Ponlaboot will consequently report the results of negotiations to other members of the Cabinet today.
The Thai Cabinet is already preparing to discuss adjusting the policies and “working processes” of the TBC in order to make the committee more efficient and effective at solving problematic border issues in future.
Resolving the ongoing dispute with Myanmar is considered a top priority by the Thai government, who currently have over Bt400 billion invested in a joint Dawei-Kanchanaburi transportation link. The developing trade route incorporates a deep-sea port at Dawai, which will be the hub for future transportation of goods through Laos and Vietnam.
In addition, the current 10-day closure at the Mai Sot-Myawaddy border crossing is thought to have lost approximately Bt88 million in trade revenue per day, totalling some Bt880 million for the period. Exports passing through the key border crossing for the first 9 months of the fiscal year equated to some Bt25 billion.
Despite these concerns, Minster Ponlaboot confirmed that the border closure would not affect Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s impending official visit to Myanmar.