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December 14, 2023

Thai PM Srettha seeks foreign investors for land bridge across Kra Isthmus

December 14, 2023

Thai Prime Minister H.E. Srettha Thavisin is seeking investors for a new land bridge that would give international shippers a shortcut between the Pacific and Indian oceans without having to pass through the Malacca Strait. The proposed 100-km land bridge would cut across the Kra Ishmus, the narrowest part of the Malay Peninsula, to join the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea. The project is expected to cost $28 billion.  

Srettha has made clear that any and all investors are welcome, in an attempt to sidestep geopolitical tensions or perhaps leverage them as powers compete for influence in the region. Srettha pitched the idea during the 10th Belt and Road forum in Beijing in October, then again in the United States during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, touting the array of investment opportunities for both the bridge and its surrounding land. The land bridge could reduce shipping vulnerabilities as pressure builds on the Malacca Strait, through which countries ship crude oil, minerals, and other essential materials. Countries with port management skills could also benefit as investors, Thai officials say, such as Singapore with potential crane equipment sales. The Thai government plans to hold a roadshow in Japan soon. If such a project was created, a land bridge could bring monumental shifts to Thailand and Southeast Asia, including local investment and employment opportunities but also irreversible changes to the country’s natural environment and the potential displacement of local communities. 

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