Construction of “Route No. 3 East,” which links northern Thailand with southern China via Laos, is nearing completion. The new route, often referred to as R3E, is expected to contribute significantly to Thailand’s trade and investment with neighboring countries and to the ASEAN region as a whole.
It is also in line with the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration’s policy on foreign affairs and international economics. The policy states that the Government will develop relations with neighboring countries in every dimension and at all levels in order to promote good understanding and mutual respect, thus bringing about regional stability, security, and prosperity in the region. Toward this aim, the Government will boost cooperation in all areas under various sub-regional frameworks. It will also resolve problems with neighboring countries through peaceful means, based on relevant treaties and laws.
R3E is part of the North-South Economic Corridor project. It starts from the border district of Chiang Khong in Chiang Rai province and continues to the border town of Houayxay and Boten in Laos. The route ends at Xishuangbanna in Yunnan province of China. A bridge across the Mekong River is being constructed, linking the Chiang Khong port with Houayxay to facilitate travel and the transport of goods. When the bridge is completed in the next two years, it will mark the first unbroken road link between Thailand and China.
According to the Director-General of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, Mrs. Soithip Trisuddhi, R3E will serve as a major land route to transport Thai products to southern China via Lao PDR in the future. The new route is in response to Thailand’s logistics development policy, which will reduce transportation costs and promote tourism.
When fully completed, R3E will enable people to travel only 1,863 kilometers from Kunming in southern China to Bangkok. Tourists and business people will find it more convenient to travel from Thailand to Laos and China and vice versa. This will promote cross-border trade in the three countries, as well.
Mrs. Soithip said that traders and investors in Xishuangbanna had called for closer coordination between Thai and Chinese authorities to facilitate goods transport and border procedures, so that they would enjoy lower production costs and fewer obstacles, and their businesses would become more competitive.
Today, R3E in Xishuangbanna is regarded as part of an important economic zone, and Chinese authorities have allowed Thai business people to invest in the Jinghong industrial estate there. Major investment projects in this area include rubber processing, food production, and furniture manufacturing. This new route will become a major gateway to trade and investment in the ASEAN region.