The Kra Canal Project : International Waterway to link with the Maritime Silk Road

Even though the idea of building a Kra Canal in Thailand dates back 200 years to the first Rattanakosin Period (1), Thai governments in the past as well as the present, have hesitated or even repeatedly shown disinterest in the project. The Kra Canal, in fact, represents a major vector for change of international shipping routes in the Asia- Pacific Region. However, it has been repeatedly rejected due to the following very simplistic reasons:

  1. Digging the Kra Canal will divide the country and will represent a security risk.
  2. Digging the Kra Canal is not worth it as nobody will want to use it.
  3. Nobody knows where to dispose of the excavated soil.
  4. The Kra Canal will represent a threat to the environment.

These arguments are usually pronounced by those with political power but without any real knowledge about the Kra Canal or by those political leaders who have common vested interests with certain entities in ASEAN member countries. These people fear that with the Kra Canal, they and their families would stand to lose power and that their own financial interests and those of their families would be threatened. They do not even want to consider the idea of any full feasibility study of the Kra Canal Project.

In reality, before digging the Kra Canal, a complete, detailed and multi- dimensional feasibility study stemming from the existing pre-feasibility studies must first be carried out. This pre-feasibility study has already made the following points clear:

1. Once the Kra Canal is constructed, it will become the shortest maritime route linking the South China Sea (Pacific Ocean) and the Andaman Sea (Indian Ocean).

2. The Malacca Straits, currently the shortest shipping route linking the South China Sea and the Andaman Sea, is highly congested with a wide variety of shipping vessels. It is a chokepoint of vital strategic importance to the world. Should anything happen causing an interruption or a halting of shipping traffic in that waterway, this would immediately impact the world economy in a major way.

3. An international project which is a major infrastructure project like the Kra Canal Project, will definitely provide benefits for many countries:

3.1 Direct benefits for Thailand, the owner of the project.

3.2 Benefits for ASEAN member countries.

3.3 Benefits for countries in the entire Asia-Pacific Region and Indian Ocean
resulting from increased economic growth and development of trade among the ASEAN member countries.

3.4 Benefits for the world community as a whole.

4. A large-scale infrastructure mega-project such as the Kra Canal will be able to support and sustain increased economic growth and distribution of wealth among the ASEAN population. It will also augment the economic potential needed to support population growth in the region. The Kra Canal will become an important part in the infrastructure stock of ASEAN which will facilitate expansion of trade and investment for the next hundreds of years.

 

5. The size of the investment and the international characteristics of the Kra Canal Project will stimulate the manufacturing sectors of many countries all over the world to once again produce for the real economy.
The Kra Canal Project will play a very important role in pulling the world out of the present crisis of a bubble economy.