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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 14:28 GMT
In pictures: River trade

Friendship Bridge between Thailand and Burma

During the day, there is very little activity along the riverbank that marks the Thai-Burma border.

Burmese people's homes on the Thai side of the river

People living in the shacks on both sides of the river often spend the day sleeping, or lazing around in the sunshine.

People loading up a boat to take over the river

But as dusk approaches, they suddenly start moving - hauling crates of produce onto boats to take across the river.

Truck being rowed over the river from Thailand to Burma

Sometimes they go to extraordinary lengths to get things across, although there is a perfectly good bridge just round the bend of the river.

Fuel canisters destined to go over the river to Burma

People living in Burma want essential items, such as cooking oil, fuel and the ever-popular flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Pier on the Thai side of the river

Thailand has few import and export regulations - it is Burma that presents the problem. Many of the items leaving and arriving in Thailand are logged with customs officials.

Burmese furniture being sold in a Mae Sot shop

According to the Tak Chamber of Commerce, Thailand imported 30m baht ($850,000) worth of furniture from Myawadi in January alone.

Cartons of vegetable oil waiting to go to Burma

In the same month it exported 46m baht ($1.3m) of diesel and 32m baht ($0.91m) of edible oil to Burma.

Young Burmese boys helping to stack tyres due to go across the river

Hauling the goods over the river is a family affair. While it might seem farcical given the proximity of the Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge, it makes financial sense for all concerned.

Illicit trade on the Thai-Burma border
08 Mar 07 |  Asia-Pacific

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