Thursday, October 4, 2007

Asia Times: Thailand's Energy and Burma

Thailand a key to new Myanmar sanctions

By Andrew Symon

BANGKOK –As international condemnation mounts against Myanmar's military government and its recent armed crackdown on street demonstrators, the country's money-spinning oil-and-gas sector could soon be the target of new and tighter Western-led sanctions. Should new bans on energy trade and investment come to pass, more than any other regional country Thailand will find itself caught between a diplomatic rock and an economic hard place.

Natural gas exports to Thailand are by far the Myanmar government's largest source of foreign revenues, accounting for nearly US$160 million per month in take-or-pay contracts negotiated before the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis - and well before the recent spike in global energy prices. According to statistics from the Asian Development Bank, gas exports contribute nearly one-third of Myanmar's total official export revenues. And there are several big new bilateral investment plans underway to pump up further natural gas and electricity exports from Myanmar to Thailand.

Under former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand came under US criticism for expanding its business ties with Myanmar's junta. His government's so-called "forward engagement" policy towards Myanmar was out of line with US- and European-led trade and investment sanctions, but was in accord with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which, since admitting Myanmar into the grouping in 1997, had preferred economic engagement over isolationism to influence the regime.


Bangkok Post: Violence in Burma to affect Thai business

Here is an excerpt of Thai investment in Burma

It said investment made by Thai investors in hotel and tourism businesses in Burma totaled US$228.6 million. Investment projects Thai businesspersons made in the production industry in Burma are worth $614.6 million, the fisheries industry $171 million and agriculture the smallest at $2.7 million.

Power generating projects invested by Thailand in Burma worth $6.03 billion baht involve construction of hydro-power dams along the Salween River, which is expected to take six years to complete.

The project value, combined with that of other investment projects, brought up the total investment value Thailand has in Burma to $7.38 billion.

It resulted in Thailand becoming the biggest investor in Myanmar with Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia coming second, third and fourth respectively.

It doesn't look like chump change to me.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I think there are undoubtedly some very attractive investment options to be found in certain locations of Thailand and, according to world experts, Thailand’s economy is undergoing a steady growth spurt. While improvements to Thailand property investment provisions continue, a symbiosis with the tourist economy and the real estate economy, will allow mutual growth at unprecedented levels.