Mukdahan makes its mark

Special economic zones in northeastern province and neighbouring Laos hold key to revival of interest in East-West Economic Corridor.

Essilor Lao Co Ltd, the local unit of the French producer of ophthalmic lenses and optical equipment, is a major tenant in the Savan-Seno SEZ. It produces around 15 million lenses per year for export to a distribution centre in Thailand for its customers worldwide. Photo: Krit Phromsakla Na Sakolnakorn

The Mukdahan Special Economic Zone in northeastern Thailand will utilise the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) or R9 to connect with the Savan-Seno SEZ in a move that could revitalise the underused route.

The brainchild of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the EWEC is a 1,320-kilometre road link connecting Mawlamyine port in western Myanmar with the Thai provinces of Tak, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Khon Kaen, Kalasin and Mukdahan, the Lao province of Savannakhet, and Quang Tri and Thau Thien-Hue provinces of Vietnam before finishing at Danang on the east.

The project first came to light in 1998 and opened in 2006 but economic activity along the route has been far lower than expected because of a lack of infrastructure support and competition from other more popular routes.

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