Establishment of a special economic zone in Myanmar’s Myawaddy, a border town with Thailand, is underway under an economic cooperation strategy program of four Mekong countries, the official newspaper New Light of Myanmar reported Thursday.

Under the Ayeyawaddy-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) agreed upon at a summit of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand in Myanmar’s ancient city of Bagan in November 2003, the Myawaddy special economic zone in southeastern Kayin state constitutes one of the three proposed zones to be set up on the Myanmar-Thai border. The other two are in Hpa-an in the same state and Mawlamyine in southern Mon state.

It was agreed that the pilot Myawaddy special economic zone project under the Myanmar-Thai bilateral cooperation will introduce a contract farming system in the implementation of agricultural work according to a discussion held in Yangon in the last two days involving officials of the two sides, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Myanmar authorities are deliberating to lease land to foreigners for the development of the three proposed special economic zones being planned by Myanmar and Thailand to mainly attract foreign investment into the projects.

Investing in the economic zone projects through lease of land are to be granted to Myanmar citizens residing abroad and foreigners residing inside and outside Myanmar, an earlier release of the Ministry of Industry-1 said.

The period of lease is designated as being a minimum of 75 years, according to the ministry, which added that levying of profit tax will be relaxed for re-investment with the profit earned annually.

The three special economic zone projects are set to start in 2007.

The Myawaddy zone covers an area of 173 hectares, while the Pha- an zone 178 hectares and Mawlamyine zone 124 hectares.

The feasibility study by Thailand on the establishment of the three industrial zones has reportedly been finalized and the finding on the feasibility has been presented to the Myanmar side for deliberation.

The study on the establishments was jointly conducted by the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand and the Myanmar Ministry of Industry-1.

Under the Myanmar-Thai cooperation, Thai factories plan to move to the zones and both countries are expected to benefit from the establishment economically and socially.

The ECS provides for cooperation in five strategic areas covering agriculture, industry, trade and investment, transport, tourist and human resources development.