Mekong Eye

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Myanmar: The Dawei Special Economic Zone

Investor confidence in the long-delayed Dawei special economic zone (DSEZ) is growing after Japan signed on as a third equal partner with Myanmar and Thailand this December. Japan’s backing may finally kick start construction of the billion dollar project that has been crippled by funding shortfalls since 2013. If it’s ever finished, the deep-seaport is expected to rival the one in Singapore, opening a new gateway to the Malacca Strait from the western Myanmar seaboard. The 196 square km special economic zone – scaled down from initial estimates of 204.5 square km – would become one the biggest industrial parks in Southeast Asia.

Burmese women start their bikes during a heavy rainstorm outside a market in the planned Dawei SEZ in Nabule.

By Brennan O'Corner

Dawei, Tanintharyi, Myanmar, April 19, 2016

The Diplomat

Investor confidence in the long-delayed Dawei special economic zone (DSEZ) is growing after Japan signed on as a third equal partner with Myanmar and Thailand this December. Japan’s backing may finally kick start construction of the billion dollar project that has been crippled by funding shortfalls since 2013. If it’s ever finished, the deep-seaport is expected to rival the one in Singapore, opening a new gateway to the Malacca Strait from the western Myanmar seaboard. The 196 square km special economic zone – scaled down from initial estimates of 204.5 square km – would become one the biggest industrial parks in Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile widespread local opposition to the project has been growing. The Dawei Development Association (DDA), a local grassroots coalition opposed to the project, organized a protest in Dawei in March; one of many over the years. According to their 2014 “Voices from the Ground” report the project will affect upwards of 43,000 people living in 36 small farming and fishing villages on pristine coastline along the Andaman Sea. Residents who sold their land to investors for next to nothing are still waiting to be paid, said the report. Others claimed their land was confiscated. In the report a photograph depicts terrified children that reportedly watch from their homes while bulldozers plowed the family’s orchard.

Image: Tayler Weidman, Getty Image

Read more at The Diplomat

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