On 30th December, the government of Myanmar announced that the CITIC Consortium, which comprises of 6 Chinese companies, wins the bid to develop Kyauk Phyu SEZ. Mr. Win Shein, the MP from Kyauk Phyu said, the last minute agreement before the current government hand over the power to the new NLD-led government, could involve fraud and corruption between the government and Chinese investors. The bid for the SEZ takes 24 months, 16 companies have compete for the bid, but the government approve CITIC in rush. CITIC Consortium states it will invest about 9 bn US$ for the Kyauk Phyu SEZ project, which covers 4200 acre of lands.
The Mekong countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam are emerging to be not only the new growth center but also a new strategic frontier in Asia.
With a population of around 240 million and a combined GDP of $664 billion, the Mekong region has geopolitical significance and economic weight. It is located at the junction of the enormous emerging markets of Asia and their combined population of about 3.3 billion.
Myanmar’s landmark election and the likelihood of a peaceful and smooth power transition have drawn more international attention and interest to the Mekong region as a whole. Myanmar is expected to be a key regional actor and now possibly a catalyst of regional peace, democracy, and development.
The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) framework was officially launched on Thursday following talks among senior foreign affairs officials from China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in Jinghong, Yunnan Province.
FOCUSING ON THREE KEY AREAS
The Lancang-Mekong River is a natural link between the six countries.
At the first LMC foreign ministers’ meeting, they decided to cooperate in three key areas – politico-security issues, economic affairs and sustainable development, and social affairs and people-to-people exchanges.
At the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Nam Hong, Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Thongloun Sisoulith, Myanmar Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin, Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh attended the meeting, and Wang Yi and Don Pramudwinai co-hosted the meeting.
China aims to complete laying a 418-kilometre (260-mile) railway from a border town to Laos by 2020, the official China Economic Herald reported, as the economic giant seeks a new route into the emerging markets of Southeast Asia.
The two countries agreed on Friday to jointly build a 40-billion yuan ($6.28 billion) railway from the border town of Boten to the Laos capital Vientiane, the Herald reported.
The deal was announced at a signing ceremony attended by senior officials from the National Development & Reform Commission the country’s top economic planner, China Railway Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of China, the paper said.
Laos, poor and landlocked, has traditionally been firmly in the orbit of its larger neighbour to the east, Vietnam.
But China has been aggressively courting Laos as it sees the communist-ruled country as an important route into Southeast Asia, and its ports on the Mekong River for landlocked parts of southwestern China such as Yunnan.
Thailand’s listed power producer Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding PCL (RATCH) plans to invest around $1 billion in power plants in Indonesia, Laos and China, a top official with the company said.
The company expects its aggressive investment to double its electricity production capacity to 8,000 megawatts, increasing its enterprise value from the current level of 124 billion baht to 188 billion baht by 2018.
Rum Herabat, the newly-appointed chief executive officer, said the company is looking at three main approaches to increase business. These include – exploring new investments, managing efficiency of main power plants and completing construction of new power plants as planned.
The potential projects, for which the company is conducting feasibility studies and negotiation include, 2,000-MW JAWA7 in Indonesia, 400-MW Sekong 4 hydropower project in Lao PDR, seven solar farms projects for the public sector in Thailand (with a combined capacity of 35 MW) and 2,000-MW power plant project in China.
The development of nuclear power in China is set to gain momentum in the next five years as the country prepares to inject hundreds of billions of yuan into building nuclear plants. More than 100 nuclear power plants will be put into operation by 2020, with a nationwide capacity tripling that of 2014 to reach 58 million kilowatts, the China Times reported, citing a draft for the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20).
According to the document, the government is expected to invest about 500 billion yuan (S$109 billion) to build six to eight new plants annually during the period.
A leaked WWF report exposes the scale of illegal logging in Laos. Almost all of timber exports from Laos go to Vietnam and China. In 2013, Laos exported 1.4 million cubic metres of timber to these two countries. That’s more than 10 times the official timber harvest in Laos.
How dam construction companies deal with the social and environmental impacts of their projects comes down to more than just their own policies, write Johan Nordensvard and Frauke Urban.
China’s transport infrastructure initiative, including the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and other related proposals, will pose a threat to Vietnam’s infrastructure development plan in the near future, an expert from the Vietnam Institute for Economic Research and Policy (VEPR) said at a seminar on the Chinese economy in Ho Chi Minh City last week.