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February 21, 2019

Kyaukpyu Deep Seaport project will not become a debt trap

The progress of economic zones is of great importance to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. It can also create job opportunities in areas where the zones are set up.
Hence, we need to ensure our projects are a success for our people to be able to enjoy a good socio-economic life.
While setting up special economic zones in the country, concerns are rising over the Kyaukpyu Deep Seaport and Myanmar being at risk of walking into a debt trap as a result of the seaport, which includes the Kyaukpyu SEZ in Rakhine State.
We are fully aware of the concerns expressed by observers and academics regarding the debt issue, or “debt book diplomacy” or the “debt trap”.
The chairman of the Myanmar Investment Commission brushed off the concern last week in Hong Kong saying, “We do not have any concerns regarding the ‘debt trap’.”
Why? There are three reasons: First, this project is based on demand and not on supply. Second, the size of the project will be tailored to Myanmar’s needs. More importantly, the government will not borrow any funds and will not cede to any sovereign authority.
The case of Hambantota port in Sri Lanka has provided us with a textbook example of how to implement the deep sea port. Myanmar will not implement large-scale project such as the Hambantota Port.
To implement the project, Myanmar is mindful of similar patterns and has taken lessons from other countries. The Kyaukpyu Deep Seaport project is a part of the economic corridor of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the two countries will approach this in a way to ensure it becomes a win-win situation for both.
Myanmar and China have made progress during negotiations over the Kyaukpyu Deep Seaport. Both agreed to construct the port in stages and that the construction would be carried out step by step under the management of the Ministry of Commerce, with participation from local businessmen and residents, in cooperation with China.
We can rest assured that we will start on a small scale and expand gradually in phases according to its progress as well as income generation.
Hence, we can say that Myanmar is not walking into a debt trap.


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