East-West Economic Corridor


The East-West Corridor (EWC) is not considered an important corridor from a trade logistics perspective, except at the western end linking Thailand with Myanmar. Current trade has been restricted by sanctions and difficult economic conditions in Myanmar (Does this need update?), and by complex logistics involving the significant use of non-transparent approaches (Does this need update?). The damage to the bridge between Mae Sot and Myawaddy resulted in the imposition of a 12-ton weight limit, thus excluding heavy transport crossing. Most traffic passes through the 25 river ports and/or quays and is reloaded onto local transport for distribution within Myanmar.

At the time of the study [2012], it was difficult to obtain reliable and consistent rates and, therefore, much of the traffic is considered to change ownership at the border by using ex-border trading terms. There are also significant issues over whether the trade is formal or informal. The 'soft' infrastructure of border processing and transport agreements in Myanmar will need to be addressed as a priority as the country opens up to external markets, particularly as trade with Thailand is expected to expand rapidly. Addressing these nontariff barriers is expected to facilitate this bilateral trade (Does this need update?).

The main physical infrastructure issue, other than the bridge, is the road network inside Myanmar. Although Thailand funded the first 17km, this road is in a poor state and needs rehabilitation, as does the AH1, all the way to its connection with the main north-south road at Payagyi. Part of this road uses one-direction traffic for one day, and then the reverse direction for the next day, thus increasing transport costs. The important trade corridor is from the border to Yangon, rather than the current routing to Mawlamyine, which has a negligible trade potential. The road from the border to Kawkareik and the bridge repairs will be funded by the Government of Thailand, but this still means that the poor road quality between Kawkareik and Payagyi will continue to be a constraint. From a trade facilitation perspective, the physical infrastructure development of this corridor is considered the priority. While the hilly section of the road between Tak and Mae Sot is only a two-lane road, it should not be a major constraint as the average driving speeds are restricted over this section due to the nature of the terrain.

West of Phitsanulok, this corridor carries limited volumes of trade with low traffic levels through the border crossings. The major reasons are the lack of significant centers of demand and/or conurbations, and, because Da Nang is only a small port with limited maritime connectivity, it is not a gateway port for this corridor. While there are developments taking place to establish special trade border zones, it is unlikely that this part of the corridor will develop into an important trade route given its demand profile. Even with the resolution of any outstanding 'soft' infrastructure issues, it would not be expected to have a major impact on trade volumes.