New bridge signals progress in trade connectivity . . .
The recent opening of a second bridge across the Moei River, which runs north-south between Thailand and Myanmar, is the latest step toward the realization of the larger East-West Economic Corridor project. The Corridor is a multilateral initiative to foster economic links along a 1,700-km land route from Vietnam to Myanmar via Laos and Thailand. Once the arterial road connecting these countries is completed, it will facilitate intra-regional economic integration and the transportation of goods. It will also foster greater connectivity with India; the Corridor extends to Myanmar’s Bay of Bengal, where India has built a new port. The Corridor may also be linked to the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, which could be inaugurated in 2020.
Japan’s answer to China’s BRI . . .
The new Corridor is likely to reduce Southeast Asia’s economic dependence on China. It’s not surprising then that Japan, which has been anxious about China’s rise, is one of the project’s key movers. Where this new Corridor is concerned, Japan’s Asian Development Bank provided loans for the construction of one section of the arterial road that goes through Myanmar. Japan is also building a Toyota Motor plant 25 km south of Yangon, Myanmar, at the western end of the Corridor.
Bumpy road ahead . . .
Local unrest at or near the Corridor’s western terminus could delay the project’s completion. That includes ongoing ethnic conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It also includes northeastern India, which has been the site of unrest, and where Japan has made investments in infrastructure projects.
- The Nikkei Asian Review: Southeast Asia's trans-regional corridor takes shape
- The Economic Times: Southeast Asian corridor eyes business opportunities with Delhi via Bay of Bengal
- The Economic Times: India-Japan summit: Focus on Rs 13,000 cr investment in Northeast