Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and Deep Sea port, Tanintharyi, Myanmar

“Dawei society’s land and livelihoods, shared histories and traditions, ecologies and cultures, and ability to build common futures are all under threat,” [1] says a large CSO coalition demanding the halt of the controversial project


Description

The Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and deep-sea port, if realized, would be one of the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia. Since the beginning, the project has fueled massive concerns by many local communities as well as Myanmar and Thai civil society groups, who have documented the social and environmental impacts and implications of the mega-project in several reports (see “Voices from the Ground” by the Dawei Development Association (DDA) [2], and “Our lives not for sale” by the Tavoyan Women Union (TWU)[3]).

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Basic Data
NameDawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and Deep Sea port, Tanintharyi, Myanmar
CountryMyanmar
ProvinceTanintharyi
SiteDawei
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Land acquisition conflicts
Thermal power plants
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Chemical industries
Metal refineries
Manufacturing activities
Ports and airport projects
Specific CommoditiesWater
Land
trade and logistics services
Coal
Sand, gravel
Manufactured Products
Steel
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar, is one of three planned SEZs in Myanmar. The other two are Thilawa SEZ in Southern Yangon and Kyaukphyu SEZ in Rakhine.

Thailand’s interest in the project is strategic. It is Bangkok’s closes gateway to the Andaman Sea, as well as to India and the Middle East. Thailand faces furthermore limits to expand its domestic petrochemical estate at Map Ta Phut due to strong citizens’ resistances against the vast social and environmental impacts [3]. The Dawei SEZ would be about ten times bigger than the Map Ta Phut estate, informs the Tavoyan Women Union [3].

By linking up with several economic corridors across Southeast Asia, the Dawei SEZ is also part of a broader regional development plan. Myanmar’s interest to develop the project has been strong. Even an own legal framework has been developed for the project, the Dawei Special Economic Zone Law, drafted in 2011 [7].

The project has been declared in an area covering 204.51 km2 (20,451 ha). It was estimated that about 50 billion USD of investment capital would be required to develop the SEZ. The project has had difficulties in securing this large investment [2,7].

The development of the SEZ is divided into two phases. The initial phase involves: a 2-lane road-link (Dawei SEZ to Myanmar-Thai border, about 130km); an initial industrial zone of 27 km2; a small port; an LNG terminal; small power plants; a small water reservoir (with water treatment plant); a township plan for employees; a Telecom landline [6].

The entire zone consists of ten projects: an industrial estate area containing a deep seaport, and oil refinery complex, a steel mill, a fertilizer and petrochemical plant, a pulp and paper processing plant, other industrial factory complexes and one or more electric power plants [2]. The deep-sea port will have a harbour for 54 vessels, including large container ships [3]. The plans for the project's power source have changed over time. It originally included a large 4,000 MW coal-fired power plant, which was later announced to be cancelled over “environmental problems” [2, page 11]. Plans of other coal and natural gas power plants providing up to 7,000 MW were discussed but not yet developed. Civil society groups said that only little information on the project components was made public [2].

According to the report by the Dawei Development Association [2], about 20-36 villages would be directly affected, comprised of 4,384 – 7,807 households (approx. 22,000-43,000 people). Many more people in the surrounding coastal, urban and urban areas are likely to suffer negative environmental impacts, says DDA. Unofficial estimates accounting for direct and indirect impacts of land grabs and related environmental change amount to up to 500,000 potentially affected people [7].

The project proponents have changed over time. Mekong Watch [6] reports the involvement of the following companies:

2008-2013: Most works have been carried under the Dawei Development Company (DDC), which is a joint venture by ITD (75%) and Max Myanmar (25%). Max Myanmar withdrew its investment in July 2012.

2013: ITD lost their concession rights, which were transferred to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) company, the Dawei SEZ Development Company Ltd, jointly owned by the Thai and Burmese government.

2015: The Myandawei Industrial Estate Company Ltd. (MIE) was established as a joint venture between ITD and Rojana Industrial Park Public Company Ltd. ITD, Rojana and LNG Plus International Company Ltd. were granted concessions for the initial project phase. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) joined the Dawei SEZ Development Co. Ltd. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has supported the project technically and financially [8].

As of February 2018, seven out of 10 EIAs and SIAs have been approved, while three were still under consideration. Environmental Resources Management (ERM) has been the consultant on the land lease contracts, compensation and relocation works [8].
Project Area (in hectares)20,451
Level of Investment (in USD)50,000,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population22,000-43,000 directly affected
Start Date2008
Company Names or State EnterprisesItalian-Thai Development Public Company Limited (Italthai) from Thailand
Dawei Development Company Ltd. (DDC) from Myanmar - construction services
Max Myanmar Holding Co., Ltd. from Myanmar - construction services, shareholder until 2012
Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) company from Myanmar - project developer
Dawei SEZ Development Company Ltd from Myanmar - project developer
Myandawei Industrial Estate Company Ltd. (MIE) (MIE) from Myanmar - project developer
Rojana Industrial Park Public Company Ltd from Thailand - project developer
LNG Plus International Company Ltd. from Thailand - project developer
Environmental Resource Management (ERM ) - EIA consultant
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Myanmar

Government of Thailand

Government of Japan
International and Financial InstitutionsJapan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) (JICA) from Japan
Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) (JBIC) from Japan
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCivil Society Organizations that signed the 2018 statement on the project

1. Dawei Development Association (DDA)

2. Dawei ProBono Lawyer Network (DPLN)

3. Tavoyan Women’s Union (TWU)

4. Tanintharyi River Indigenous People Network (TRIP-NET)

5. Community Sustainable Livelihoods and Development (CSLD)

6. Rays of Kamoethway Indigenous People and Nature (RKIPN)

7. Paung Ku

8. Progressive Voice

9. Community Response Group (ComReG)

10. IFI Watch Myanmar

11. Myanmar China Pipeline Watch Committee

12. Andin Youth Group, Pharlain Community

13. Capacity Building for Youth (Mon, Karen, Dawei)

14. Farmers and Landworkers Union (Myanmar)

15. Environmental Conservation and Farmer Development Organization (Shan)

16. ကမ္းေျခအားမာန္ ေရလုပ္သားဖြံ႔ၿဖိဳးတိုးတက္ေရးအဖြဲ႕

17. Thanphyuzayut Mon Youth

18. Belin Network

19. Pyar Taung Social Development

20. သင္႔ျမတ္လိုသူမ်ား၏ ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးလမ္းစဥ္အဖြဲ႕ (POPP)

21. Action Groups for Farmers Affairs

22. ေရႊျခေသ့ၤလူမႈေစာင့္ေ႐ွာက္ေရးအဖြဲ႔(ေ႐ွြဘို).

23. ေရႊျခေသ့ၤေတာင္သူကြန္ရက္(ေရႊဘိုခ႐ိုင္)

24. တြံေတးကြန္ယက္

25. Bedar

26. Shwe Maw Won

27. Thilawa Social Development Group

28. Myanmar Alliance for Transparency & Accountability ( Mandalay Regional Working Group)

29. The Mekong Butterfly

30. Community Resource Center Foundation (CRC)

31. Spirit in Education Movement (SEM)

32. Extra Territorial Obligation Watch (ETO Watch)

33. EarthRights International (ERI)

34. Ecological Alert and Recovery – Thailand (EARTH)

35. Focus on the Global South

36. Land Watch Thai
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingEthnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Farmers
Local ejos
Fisher people
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Women
Ethnic Karen and Tavoyan
International ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationPublic campaigns
Objections to the EIA
Development of a network/collective action
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Blockades
Land occupation
Refusal of compensation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Soil erosion
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Militarization and increased police presence, Other socio-economic impacts, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Othermassive rise in land prices, related speculation and squeezing out of farmers and villagers from the area [e].
Outcome
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Corruption
Institutional changes
Migration/displacement
Repression
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Project temporarily suspended
Women were harassed and threatened with sexual violence after publishing their report on the impacts on women [9]
Development of AlternativesThe CSO coalition that signed the statement in 2018 argues that the development of alternative development strategies must not be based on top-down planning of dirty industries that only benefit a few economic, political and military elites. Strategies should be based on sustainable small-scale agriculture, fisheries, customary forestry and community-based tourism [1]. “These practices provide livelihoods and maintain the environment for the vast majority of people in Dawei. They support social solidarity, and forms of life that question the assumption that modern industry and market capitalism are the natural end points for all societies” [1, page 2].
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The project was suspended several times and has provoked a strong civil society response. However, plans are made to continue the project
Sources and Materials
Legislations

2012 Foreign Investment Law
[click to view]

2012 Environmental Conservation Law
[click to view]

2014 Environmental Conservation Rules
[click to view]

2012 Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law
[click to view]

2015 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedure
[click to view]

2016 Myanmar Investment Law
[click to view]

2012 Farmland Law
[click to view]

2014 Myanmar Special Economic Zone Law
[click to view]

2011 Dawei Special Economic Zone Law
[click to view]

References

Sekine Y. 2016 "Land Confiscations and Collective Action in Myanmar’s Dawei Special Economic Zone Area: Implications for Rural Democratization". Global governance/politics, climate justice & agrarian/social justice: linkages and challenges. Colloquium Paper No. 59. (accessed online 09.01.2019)
[click to view]

[2] Dawei Development Association (DDA), 2014 "Voices from the Ground". Concerns over the Dawei Special Economic Zone and Related Projects. (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[3] Tavoyan Women Union (TWU), 2014 "Our lives not for sale - Tavoyan women speak out against the Dawei Special Economic Zone project". (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[7] Paung Ku and Transnational Institute, September 2012. "Land Grabbing in Dawei (Myanmar/Burma): a (Inter)National Human Rights Concern" (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

Links

[5] Wikipedia on the Dawei Port Project (accessed on 26.10.2018).
[click to view]

[1] Statement on government plans to resume the Dawei special economic zone (SEZ) project, Dawei, Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar, February 20, 2018 (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[4] The Myanmar Times, 22 Feb 2018. "Dawei SEZ is for the few, not the many" (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[6] Mekong Watch, 10 November 2016. "Fact Sheet Project Name: Myanmar/Burma: Dawei Special Economic Zone Development Project" (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[8] The Myanmar Times, 19 Feb 2018. "Dawei SEZ’s grave human rights violations, forced evictions and flawed EIAs come under fire" (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[9]Tavoyan Women's Union, Press Release, 25 February, 2015. "Women Activists Facing Harassment by Proponents of Dawei Special Economic Zone" (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[10] The Irrawaddy, 21 October 2014. "Thai Human Rights Commission Hears Concerns About Dawei SEZ" (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[11] The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, 23 November 2015. "Report of the consideration No. 1220/2558. Community rights: the case of Dawei Deep Seaport and Special Economic Zone Project in Myanmar which Thailand has signed the MoU to co-develop and it has violated the human rights of Dawei people". (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[12] Earthrights International. "Dawei Special Economic Zone: one of the largest planned industrial zones in Southeast Asia could harm tens of thousands of people." (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

Project homepage, by Myandawei Industrial Estate Co. Ltd (accessed on 09.10.2019)
[click to view]

Media Links

DDSP Project and Local Villagers' Desire (Eng)
[click to view]

Other Documents

Report cover
[click to view]

Women protesting the arrest of their husbands Source: Tavoyan Women Union (TWU), 2014 "Our lives not for sale". http://womenofburma.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Our-Lives-Not-for-Sale_English.pdf
[click to view]

Liveihoods and cultural sites affected by the project Source: Dawei Development Association (DDA), "Voices from the Ground" (2014). https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/voice_from_the_ground_eng_online.compressed.pdf
[click to view]

Source: Dawei Development Association (DDA), "Voices from the Ground" (2014). https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/voice_from_the_ground_eng_online.compressed.pdf
[click to view]

Stopping road construction Source: Dawei Development Association (DDA), "Voices from the Ground" (2014). https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/voice_from_the_ground_eng_online.compressed.pdf
[click to view]

research by civil society groups Source: Dawei Development Association (DDA), "Voices from the Ground" (2014). https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/voice_from_the_ground_eng_online.compressed.pdf
[click to view]

Relocation sites Source: Dawei Development Association (DDA), "Voices from the Ground" (2014). https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/voice_from_the_ground_eng_online.compressed.pdf
[click to view]

Construction activities on villagers' land Source: Dawei Development Association (DDA), "Voices from the Ground" (2014). https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/voice_from_the_ground_eng_online.compressed.pdf
[click to view]

Dawei Deep Sea Port Source: Dawei Development Association (DDA), "Voices from the Ground" (2014). https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/voice_from_the_ground_eng_online.compressed.pdf
[click to view]

Development Plans Source: Dawei Development Association (DDA), "Voices from the Ground" (2014). https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/voice_from_the_ground_eng_online.compressed.pdf
[click to view]

campaigns Source: Dawei Development Association (DDA), "Voices from the Ground" (2014). https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/voice_from_the_ground_eng_online.compressed.pdf
[click to view]

Protests against coal power plant Source: Tavoyan Women Union (TWU), 2014 "Our lives not for sale". http://womenofburma.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Our-Lives-Not-for-Sale_English.pdf
[click to view]

Protests against oil refinery Source: Tavoyan Women Union (TWU), 2014 "Our lives not for sale". http://womenofburma.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Our-Lives-Not-for-Sale_English.pdf
[click to view]

planned road to Thailand Source: Dawei Development Association (DDA), "Voices from the Ground" (2014). https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/voice_from_the_ground_eng_online.compressed.pdf
[click to view]

Other CommentsFor a further list of media reports on the issue, see Wikipedia on the Dawei Special Economic Zone (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawei_Port_Project)
Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team (ejatlas.asia"at"gmail.com)
Last update09/01/2019
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