Thai businessmen have called on the Myanmar government to relax border control rules affecting trade with Thailand.
They were referring to the export of Thai products through Ban Pu Nam Ron temporary checkpoint in Kanchanaburi via the Htee Ki border checkpoint in Myanmar's Tanintharyi Division.
The businessmen told a group of five Myanmar journalists who visited Kanchanaburi last week that they wanted to boost cross-border trade.
The reporters from the Myanmar Journalists Association were in Kanchanaburi as guests of the Thai Journalists Association to sign a memorandum of understanding on a media exchange programme.
They asked to meet Thai business representatives to discuss cross-border trade after Myanmar opened its Htee Ki border checkpoint in May. Thailand declared Ban Pu Nam Ron a temporary border checkpoint in June.
"The Ban Pu Nam Ron-Htee Ki border checkpoint is a vital gateway for Thailand to the Dawei deep-sea port and special economic zone project in southern Myanmar and other nearby regions," said Sunpetch Slisatakorn, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries in Kanchanaburi.
"We would like all of you [Myanmar journalists] to help convey our message to your responsible ministers."
Mr Sunpetch said even though the Htee Ki border checkpoint was now open, Myanmar had yet to allow Thai businesses to export goods through Ban Pu Nam Ron to Myanmar. He said if Nay Pyi Taw relaxed its rules, Myanmar people living in the area would be able to purchase Thai products at much lower prices.
He said all goods from Thailand are currently exported to Myanmar from Three Pagodas Pass in Kanchanaburi's Sangkhla Buri district to Phaya Tong Su checkpoint and Ranong-Kawthaung checkpoint. The extra transport costs made product prices higher in areas close to Ban Pu Nam Ron.
He said apart from relaxing the rules on Thai products, he would like Nay Pyi Taw to allow Thai-registered tour vans and Thai-registered goods vehicles to pass through Htee Ki on the way to Dawei township.
Teerachai Chutiman, chairman of the Kanchanaburi Chamber of Commerce, said he was confident cross-border trade between Kanchanaburi and Htee Ki would prosper if Nay Pyi Taw allowed Thai goods to be exported via Htee Ki.
Mr Teerachai said with Myanmar opening the Htee Ki border checkpoint, he had become worried about the influx of illegal workers.
He said he would like Nay Pyi Taw to empower its authorities at Htee Ki checkpoint to issue passports for Myanmar nationals who want to work in Thailand.At the same time he would contact Thai authorities from the Labour Ministry and job placement companies to open job application desks at Ban Pu Nam Ron.
Aung Hla Tun, head of the Myanmar journalists delegation, said he promised to convey the messages from the Thai businessmen to Myanmar ministers.
This article first appeared in the Bangkok Post on September 8, 2013.