A truck passing a sign on a road leading to a deep sea port project in Mayingyi, part of the Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar. Photo: AFP/Soe Than Win

A proper highway will soon connect the planned special economic zone at Dawei in southeastern Myanmar with Thailand’s road network, The Irrawaddy, a Myanmar website, reported on November 2.

In accordance with an agreement signed on November 1 between the governments of Thailand and Myanmar, the now existing, secondary road will be upgraded and connect with the border crossing at Htee Khee in Myanmar’s Thanintharyi Region and Ban Phu Nam Ron in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province.

The upgrade will be mainly on the Myanmar side of the border and the Myanmar authorities will allow Thailand’s Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency to carry out design work and build the highway.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone is part of a US$8-10 billion project that includes high-tech industrial zones, export-processing zones and a deep sea port.

When finished, is expected to be Southeast Asia’s largest industrial complex and, according to The Irrawaddy, the port “would be a potential boon for firms relying on the transport of goods via the crowded Malacca Strait.”

The Japan International Cooperation Agency has taken the lead for a development survey for the project, including setting up an electrical grid, basic infrastructure and buildings.

Thailand and Myanmar signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop the zone as early as 2008, but work was suspended in 2013 because of problems with and competition among the investors. After further delays, the Myanmar government announced in September that work will soon restart on the zone and port.