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Analysis: Thailand’s proposed land bridge project easier than Kra Canal idea, but steep challenges await

BANGKOK: Thailand’s plan to build a 90km land bridge across its southern region, which could see shipping trade bypass Malaysia and Singapore, is on paper easier than the long-touted Kra Canal, although it still faces steep challenges, say analysts.

These include the multi-billion dollar construction cost, security concerns in Thailand’s conflict-ridden south and the mountainous terrain where the project would prospectively be located.

Given the long-established shipping facilities and operations in the Straits of Malacca, analysts also warned that the Thai land bridge initiative could end in failure if not carefully planned.

But for Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, the project is expected to attract international investors and turn Thailand into a thriving production hub.

“This will be a global mega-project, which will shorten the duration of goods transport via the channel of the Malacca Strait by six to nine days,” he said during the Thailand-China Investment Forum in Beijing on Thursday (Oct 19).

Mr Srettha also added that Thailand is ready to welcome Chinese investors to help develop the country and promised to improve the ease of doing business in the kingdom in the future.

A NEW TRADE ROUTE LINKING THE INDIAN AND PACIFIC OCEANS

The land bridge project is designed to provide a new trade route between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It will include two deep sea ports on Thailand’s eastern and western coasts as well as a rail and road system linking them together.

The eastern port will be located in Chumphon province on the Gulf of Thailand and the other in Ranong province on the Andaman Sea. According to Mr Srettha, the cost is estimated at US$35.6 billion.

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