Bridge holds key to Nakhon Phanom boom

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A view from the Third Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge overlooking Thakhek in Laos from the border province of Nakhon Phanom.
Photo: Nauvarat Suksamran

Nakhon Phanom must commercialise its land surrounding the Third Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge to “unlock its potential” as a main logistics hub for international trade in Asean and southern China, Northeastern Thai Industries Federation chairman Viroj Pipatchaisiri says.

The province has so far been unable to financially benefit from its “advantageous” location, bordering eastern Laos over the Mekong River, he said.

The 1.4km-long bridge connects Nakhon Phanom’s Mueang Nakhon Phanom district to Thakhek town in Khammouane province, Laos.

It is normally used as a trade route for goods traveling to and from Laos, Vietnam and southern parts of China.

“We can observe that all this money is passing through Nakhon Phanom, but virtually none of it actually goes to the province itself, because it is considered a transit area,” Mr Viroj said Sunday.

“If more factories are built in the province, the population will soar, due to the increased amount of employees stationed there.

“This will surely pave the way for businesses such as restaurants, hospitals and health clinics, which will lead to money being generated and remaining in Nakhon Phanom,” he added.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha invoked Section 44 of the interim charter to establish a special economic development zone (SEZ) in Nakhon Phanom in late 2016.

To attract investors, the special economic zone allows import tax and logistics-related fee deduction benefits for businesses that are seen to promote economic activities in the area.

Nakhon Phanom’s 450,000-rai special economic zone comprises parts of the province’s Muang Nakhon Phanom and Tha Uthen districts, covering around 13 sub-districts. A subcommittee chaired by Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda earlier reached an agreement to set aside 2,938 rai of land around the bridge for initial industrial development, due to its proximity to…

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