Relaunching Myitsone Hydropower dam could win investor confidence in Myanmar

Myanmar President U Win Myint on Thursday started a visit to Thailand, where he will attend the 8th Ayeyawady-Chao Phyra Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit.

The summit is intended to promote regional economic integration by narrowing the development gaps among the five member countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

In 2015 when the 6th ACMECS Summit was held in Myanmar, former president U Thein Sein invited foreign companies to invest in the emerging country.

If Myanmar wants to make itself an attractive destination for investment, especially in the field of hydroelectric infrastructure, the country must pay more attention to maintaining policy continuity and consistency.

Different groups in Myanmar have different views of the long-suspended Myitsone Hydropower Dam. However, the hydropower station is a commercial cooperation project that China and Myanmar have agreed upon. Myanmar did something unorthodox when it suspended a project that had gone through a complete approval process.

The dam is a large hydroelectric power development project at the confluence of the Mali and N’mai rivers, the source of the Ayeyawady River. Its long suspension is likely to drive down investor confidence amid concerns over the uncertainty of Myanmar’s economic policy.

Southeast Asia is home to dozens of international rivers. Platforms such as the ACMECS summit could help countries in the region reach a consensus through consultation on issues such as international water policy and environmental protection standards, which will provide hydropower dam projects in those countries with very specific rules.

Hopefully, a consensus regarding environmental protection, dam safety, cultural heritage preservation and other issues can ease the difficulty for Myanmar in reviewing the suspended project and resuming work on the Myitsone dam as soon as possible.

However, given the complicated public opinion surrounding the project, it’s unrealistic to expect breaking news about Myitsone from Win Myint’s trip. China will keep talking to Myanmar over the stalled dam and try to find a practical way to resume the project based on mutually beneficial cooperation.

China is willing to strengthen its cooperation with Myanmar and make its investment a boon for Myanmar’s economy.

Source: Global Times

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