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Bangkok Post (10/4/99)

<center><bold>Officials review progress on transnational highway 

</bold></center>Planned land bridge will lower trade costs

Supamart Kasem

Representatives from Thailand, Vietnam, and the Asian Development Bank
visited Mae Sot district over the weekend to consider progress in
developing a transnational highway linking Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and

The delegation included Warin Wonghanchao, chairman of International
Consultancy Network Co of Thailand, Nguyen Quang Thai of Vietnam's
Planning and Investment Ministry, and Ian Green, a regional planner of
the Asian Development Bank.

Mr Thai said the ADB had lent Hanoi US$963,000 (35 million baht) for a
feasibility study of the project, which would help develop rural areas in
central Vietnam as well as communities along the route.

Construction of the highway, part of the East-West Corridor project,
would include building the second Thai-Laotian bridge across the Mekong
River in Mukdaharn province.

Mr Warin said the highway would eventually link the deep-sea port at
Danang, Vietnam, with another deep-sea port in either Rangoon or Kaleguak
in Burma, via Laos and Thailand.

The route would eventually serve as a short cut for the movement of cargo
by land between East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East, eliminating
the necessity of sending it by ship.

"Billions of people will benefit from the East-West Corridor because
goods will be cheaper. The short cut will reduce transportation costs by
billions of baht yearly," Mr Warin said.

In Thailand, the National Economic and Social Development Board plans
four-lane highways from the Thai-Burmese friendship bridge in Mae Sot, to
Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Petchabun, Khon Kaen and Mukdaharn province.

The Burmese government had made little progress in its study, he said.