The Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, linking Burma and Thailand border town was reopened early today after been closed since July 2010.
Border authorities from both countries attended the bridge reopening ceremony with as many as 200 locals.
In a symbolic gesture balloons were released from the Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge near Rim Moei, Mae Sot district.
In Myawaddy Town, on the the Burma side, similar sentiments marked the occasion and according to Burma’s Commerce Minister, U Win Myint, were a reminder of the “good and valuable start” of the Thai-Burmese relationship. Mr. Myint, responsible for border trade, agreed to re-open the Myawaddy border checkpoint at the request of the Thai government.
Banphot Kokiatcharoen, chairman of the Tak Chamber of Commerce, estimated that the bridge closure cost Thailand 20 billion baht in lost trade through the Mae Sot customs checkpoint.
A woman merchant from Myawaddy border town said traders on both sides of the border were hurt by the closure.
“It is good the bridge is reopened. We had to pay more when we could only use the ferry to cross the border.”
Following the Friendship Bridge reopening ceremony, Burma held another ceremony for a special economic zone that is planned for Myawaddy to boost border trading further.
A Myawaddy resident told Karen News.
“Right after the bridge reopening ceremony Burma authorities had another one for the special trading zone. It was also attended by five cars filled with Thai authorities.”
Mae Sot and Myawaddy, have been herald as Thailand’s and Burma’s link in the East–West Economic Corridor that regional investors, before the border closure, hoped would increase trade to and through Burma to larger markets in China and India.