Monday, September 25, 2017

East-West Economic corridor still in planning stage: ADB official

An east-west corridor linking Mawlamyine to Danang in Vietnam – that is one of the goals of the master “connectivity” plan just approved by ASEAN.

The corridor is one of 15 communications and infrastructure projects ASEAN is asking donors to fund in connection with ASEAN’s plan as the regional group approaches the next milestone for economic integration, in 2015, Mr Kunio Senga, director general of the Southeast Asia department of the Asian Development Bank told The Myanmar Times on October 28 in Hanoi.

The ASEAN connectivity plan, adopted at the group’s summit earlier this year, has huge implications for ports, air, rail and highway transportation, energy, the IT industry and tourism in the region.

The 1450-kilometre East-West economic corridor would link the South China Sea at Danang to Mawlamyine through Laos and Thailand with air, rail and highway transport. The project has been on the table since 2005, but now faces revitalisation following the adoption of the master plan leading to 2015.

“We plan to implement all the projects in the plan, including the East-West economic corridor, but I can’t say how much they would cost,” he said.

Mr S Pushpanathan, deputy secretary general of ASEAN, told The Myanmar Times on October 29: “The East-West economic corridor is one of the projects in the Master Plan. There are also projects involving energy and sea ports.”

“The CLMV countries [Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam] could greatly benefit from these projects,” he said, since the international linkages would also help develop internal infrastructure and communications networks, facilitating the movements of people, goods and services.

China and Japan, along with ADB, would be the main donors.

“The ASEAN single market is the first priority to be achieved by 2015,” said Mr Pushpanathan.

According to ADB research, Asia needs approximately US$8 trillion in overall national infrastructures, and ASEAN requires infrastructure investments amounting to $596 billion by 2015. Last year, ADB spent $16 billion in ASEAN.