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ASEAN Business China Economy Thailand

Thailand Bets Big on Land Bride

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The latest megaproject for China could be the Land Bridge project in Thailand, which uses rail links to connect the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand and bypass Malacca entirely.

The project, a replacement for the more controversial Kra Canal, was brought up by Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin when he attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in October.

Zhu Feng, dean of the Institute of International Relations at Nanjing University, says the future of the project depends on the Thai authorities and political dynamics.

“China is unlikely to fund the project, but Chinese companies are likely to be major contractors if the project gets going.”

The project would link ports in the provinces of Chumpon and Ranong and is estimated to cost 1 trillion baht (US$27.7 billion) and involve a 90km (55-mile) railway and road bridge on both sides of the Gulf of Thailand and the Indian Ocean.

The bidding process for the contract is expected to start between April and June of 2024, according to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, while the first phase of operational construction is projected to begin in 2030.

Asean is now China’s top export destination. The country’s exports to the region totalled US$428.8 billion in the first 10 months of 2023.

Louis Chan, deputy director of Hong Kong Trade Development Council Research, estimates that connecting the Land Bridge will save 4-5 days’ travel time. However, environmental concerns and damage to the existing agriculture business are major concerns.

Tjia Yin-nor, an associate professor of public affairs with City University of Hong Kong, says China will probably not be eager to get involved in large projects, as they want to turn to “small yet smart” ones.

Read the full article HERE.

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