Construction of the East West Economic Corridor (EWEC) connecting Mawlamyaine and Da Nang across four ASEAN countries will be completed soon, creating a tourism boom throughout the region, an ASEAN business analyst said at a workshop on competitiveness in the ASEAN Economic Corridor.
“We expect four results from the EWEC for Myanmar: business and job opportunities will increase, export products will also increase, and we can reduce poverty,” said Myanmar Engineering Association vice chairperson Aung Myint, noting that the EWEC crosses Kayin and Mon states.
“We can go to Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia from Mawlamyaine. Myanmar can expand its market using this route. Myanmar can penetrate the market with agricultural products, clothes, fruit, rubber, forestry products and fishery products. If industrial estates are established around Mawlamyaine, Thaton and Hpa-an, business opportunities will arise.”
Aung Myint added that the tourism industry will be important, given how many locations in Kayin and Mon states have tourist attractions. The Ministry of Construction is currently planning to construct a bridge between Mawlamyaine and Belu Island.
“On Belu Island, stone slates and slate pens were manufactured in the old days, and the slate industry has since vanished. We have to revive that business again for tourists. Those places have natural resources to attract tourists,” he said.
The EWEC will increase interaction between the countries along its route, added Aung Myint, making trade much easier. For example, Yangon and Bangkok are 1,944 nautical miles apart—but only 450 miles apart via EWEC routes. Similarly, the distance between Da Nang and Bangkok is shortened by the EWEC.
“What’s more, the government has planned to construct a deep seaport in Mawlamyaine to provide support for the EWEC, but the intended location is very difficult to construct. The possible location is Kalagote between Thanbyuzayat and Myeik. But construction of a deep seaport needs much financial support,” he continued.
Harbours along the Myanmar coast and Bangladesh, Thailand, and Malaysia will be able to connect using coastal cargo ships, once the EWEC is finished. The sea routes run along the Thanlwin, Ataran and Gyaing rivers. Road connections between Yangon and Kawthoung will be extended to EWEC routes and can create road networks between EWEC countries, sources from the workshop say.
Meanwhile, tourism is expected to boom. Mawlamyaine has many tourist attractions, such as Belu Island, Kyaikkami, Kyaikmaraw, Mudon, Setse beach and Thanbyuzayat.
Using the EWEC, Myanmar can reach market of up to 100 million consumers.