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Global Transpark in Thailand To Speed Commerce

By Jim Puntasen, The Nation, Thailand Chhour
      Sokheang, Kampuchea News, Cambodia

A US$150 million computerised trade transport system – Global Transpark is in the first phase of development at U-Tapao, Thailand. It promises to speed up commerce in the region within three years.

The new system, consisting of road, rail, and air links, will enable manufacturers to obtain materials to produce goods in a matter of a few days, with network links in America, Europe, and Asia.

"In the future, a tailor will no longer stock materials for his customer. He could order them via computer, from one part of the world, and through Global Transpark the supplies could be delivered overnight, and the cutting of a suit or a dress could be finished within the next day," said Paul Wedel, head of the Asian Regional Office of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. 

Wedel gave his speech at an Indochina Media Memorial Foundation journalism training course, held recently at Chulalongkorn University for 16 reporters and editors from the region.

The Kenan Institute, based in North Carolina in the United States, has been the fore-runner in organising Global Transpark projects on three continents, in conjunction with the United States Aid Organization (USAID) which provides funds to start each project. The other two transparks are in Chicago and Frankfurt, Germany, where development is also under way.

"We have chosen U-Tapao as the central connection site for Asia. The district offers connections for truck, train, and airplane. Also Thailand and its neighbouring countries are experiencing substantial growth and development, and Thailand will not only be the gate-way to the Indochinese nations, but it will also provide exchange access to the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and China," said Wedel.

The Thai government has been interested in the project in Thailand for more than a year.
So far, the Thai government has approved US$1 million to investigate and start planning the construction. Also, USAID has provided an additional grant of US$500,000.

"With the U-Tapao project, the bidding on the construction of offices and equipment is being held, and four interested companies have been short-listed. The winning company will be announced at the end of next month (June) by the secretariat of Global Transpark company," said Wedel.
Before the construction, the master plan process will take 8-12 months.

The Global Transpark could have some impact on the local environment, which is as yet unknown.
"In relation to the project, we have conducted studies on what some impacts would be on the social climate, development, and the environment.

However, I have not yet perceived what will happen after we set up. We will have to see when the time comes." said Wedel.

The traffic problem is still a major issue in Thailand, and with Global Transpark-more trucks will run on Thailand’s eastern roads.

The representative did not provide answers about this.
"The traffic problem is here. We will have to live with it-and keep on solving," said Wedel.
For a number of people, it will be a matter of ‘wait and see’, for some time to come.

Copyright 2009 IMMF.