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New Myanmar-Thailand Bridge Brings ASEAN Closer to Trans-Regional Corridor

The transnational highway will pass through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, invigorating regional trade and potentially curtailing economic dependence on China.

A US$140 million bridge recently opened connecting Thailand and Myanmar, the most recent development in the ambitious transportation route aims to spur trade between neighbor nations and greatly ease access to the vast Indian market, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

When completed, the 1,700-kilometer land route would begin in Da Nang and stretch to Yangon, bypassing major urban areas and thus allowing for travel from Thailand to Myanmar in under 24 hours. The international connection will be the centerpiece of an ambitious project to create the East-West Economic Corridor along the land route, connecting the Indian Ocean with the East Sea. 

Ethnic conflicts have impeded construction in Myanmar, but progress is being made, with an expected completion date of 2020. Loans for portions of the roads have been issued by the Asian Development Bank. Meanwhile, roads are still under construction in Vietnam, Thailand and Laos, with no specific timeframe offered.

While the route is mainly aimed at industrial use and boosting special economic zones, the region is also looking to increase transportation routes for tourism purposes. Thailand continues to lead the development of a high-speed train network connecting neighboring nations. 

[Map via Nikkei Asian Review]