Chinese firm CITIC has invited interested companies to submit a bid in order to conduct social and environmental assessments for the construction of its Rakhine-based Kyaukphyu deep-sea port project. Proposals are due by the first week of February. The assessments are mandatory for this type of infrastructure project as many are mired in controversy of forced evictions and land grabbing or environmental damage, and Kyaukphyu will surely be subject to heightened scrutiny.
The project which also includes housing projects, terminals and a bridge connection to nearby islands is part of the planned Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ), one of the main pieces of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) that is supposed to provide China with an access to the Indian Ocean and bypass the Strait of Malacca. The CMEC is itself part of the global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The specially setup company, the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone Deep Seaport Co. Ltd, is made between Chinese consortium CITIC Myanmar Port Investment Limited and the Myanmar government-backed Kyauk Phyu Special Economic Zone Management Committee. The Chinese company holds a 70% stake in the venture and the Myanmar committee 30%.