The completion of Highway 12’s expansion, which connects Thailand with Myanmar, and Laos, is expected to significantly enhance cross-border economic activities among the three nations.
Government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri announced that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is optimistic about the economic benefits the highway will bring, particularly to the residents of Kalasin and Mukdahan in northeast Thailand. Highway 12 forms a part of the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC), a route that connects four mainland Southeast Asian countries, stretching from Myanmar in the west to Vietnam in the east.
The Thai government believes that the completed highway will provide a substantial boost to logistics, trade, and tourism, as it effectively links the Andaman coast to the South China Sea. Approximately 793 kilometres of the 1,530-kilometre-long highway is situated in Thailand. The Thai section of the highway starts at the Second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge in Tak’s Mae Sot district and passes through Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Chaiyaphum, Khon Kaen, Kalasin, and Mukdahan, where it connects to Laos at the province’s Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge.
The recently upgraded 115.6-kilometre stretch between Kalasin and Mukdahan is now a four-lane highway, costing the government 5.8 billion baht.
Anucha highlighted that Highway 12 is anticipated to stimulate regional tourism and improve the quality of life for those residing along the border. The Finance Ministry has projected that the East-West Economic Corridor will increase transborder trade by at least 50%, reported Bangkok Post.
A report from the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council also suggests that the highway will benefit the special economic zones (SEZs) in Mukdahan. Anucha revealed that there are currently 868 new businesses in the province’s SEZs, with a total value of 1.6 billion baht.