Myanmar’s political transformation towards democracy since 2010 and its liberalizing economy has held profound implications for Tanintharyi Region in Southeast Myanmar, which borders Thailand to the east and the Andaman Sea to the west.


Project Status: Complete

Thailand-Myanmar: Cross-border Dynamic, Local Response

Many people of the region have experienced a recent history of conflict that was subject to a ceasefire agreement in 2012. Shaped by regional, national and local dynamics, rapid and profound political, social and economic changes are now underway.

The preliminary stages of a “roadlink” project that connects Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand to North of Dawei town, under construction since 2010, has significantly changed transportation access, and facilitated a growing cross-border trade with Thailand. The “roadlink” – presently only in access road form – ends at the Dawei Special Economic Zone (DSEZ), first proposed and contracted since 2008 by a Thai construction company, and redesigned as a Government-to-Government project between Myanmar and Thailand in 2012. The DSEZ and roadlink was originally envisioned by its proponents to be the largest petrochemical industrial estate in Southeast Asia, but now is under construction in a significantly scaled-back form. Meanwhile, accelerating investments in agribusiness (including rubber and corn) and large mines (coal and tin) by domestic and foreign investors largely from Thailand are also transforming local economies and natural resource use across the Tanintharyi Region.

These various domestic and transnational investments have evoked responses by local community groups and various civil societies in Myanmar seeking to defend their right to livelihood, access to and control over natural resources, and ultimately voice in any development process that affects them. In response to the transnational nature both of the investment and wider economic vision that it reflects, these groups have also built trans-border collaborations with Thai and international civil society.

The purpose of this project is to examine the relationship between conflict transformation, cross-border economic development, and the impact on human security in Tanintharyi Region with a focus on the roadlink project for the DSEZ. It contextualizes these changes within the evolving relationship between Myanmar and Thailand. The project also considers the implications for people originally from the road link area who have been internally displaced in Myanmar and those living in temporary shelters and elsewhere in Thailand.

The project is being undertaken by the Center for Social Development Studies, with support from the Thailand Research Fund.

Contact Dr. Naruemon Thabchumpon for further details.