Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan said yesterday that at the recent tripartite meeting with Thailand and Japan that Myanmar remains strongly committed to Dawei, saying that the project will play a significant role in the nation's future economic development.
Thailand, Myanmar and Japan held a meeting in Yangon last Friday to discuss ways to get the Dawei sea port and industrial project off the ground.
It was the first tripartite meeting with Japan attending as a potential third partner in the Dawei development project.
In previous meetings of the joint high-ranking committee involving Thailand and Myanmar, Japan participated only in the capacity of an observer.
The neighbouring Southeast Asian nations have high hopes that Japan will eventually agree to hold a stake in Dawei SEZ Development Co (DSEZ), a special-purpose vehicle set up to manage Dawei's port and special economic zone.
"As a representative of the Thai government, I also assured at the meeting that Thailand is ready to support the project's development as well as the plans to attract both Thai and foreign investors to the project," said Mr Niwatthamrong.
The minister added that Myanmar had also accepted Japan's proposal to take a lead in investing in important infrastructure projects such as the port and roads.
While it has expressed an interest in investing in the Dawei project, Japan asked for time before making any decision to jointly invest in DSEZ.
In June, Thailand and Myanmar agreed to set up DSEZ with an equal shareholding and an initial investment of 12 million baht, far below the 100 million baht projected earlier.
The company will be registered in Thailand.
Thailand and Myanmar also agreed to set up special-purpose companies (SPCs) to manage projects including the port, road and rail links, power plants, water facilities, industrial estates, a telecommunications network and the township. SPCs will be registered in Myanmar.
According to Mr Niwatthamrong, other countries such as South Korea and China have also shown an interest in investing in the project.
He noted, however, that the final decision to choose the third stakeholder in DSEZ will rest with Myanmar's government, as Dawei is located in Myanmar.
Thailand is scheduled to organise the second tripartite meeting in November, with an agreement between the Myanmar government and DSEZ due to be signed.
This article first appeared in the Bangkok Post on October 2, 2013.