Malaysia is considering extending its ongoing 50 billion ringgit ($10.6 billion) rail project closer to its border with Thailand, as it seeks to reduce economic competition with its Southeast Asian neighbor.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the government is “open” to connecting Malaysia’s East Coast Railway Link to Thailand’s existing or planned rail infrastructure. Thailand plans to build two ports to bypass Malaysia’s most lucrative shipping route.

“The relationship between Malaysia and Thailand is not a zero-sum game,” Loke told Malaysia’s parliament on Wednesday. Both countries face “political economic” challenges that can be tackled together, and one area of cooperation is cross-border connectivity, he added.

The ECRL rail project, which will connect Malaysia’s west and east coasts, is expected to be completed by 2027. Its last stop under the current alignment is Kota Bharu, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from the Thai border. 

Thailand’s planned $29 billion Chumphon-Ranong Land Bridge project will see the country build two new ports at both of its coasts — providing a new trade route that potentially bypasses the Malacca Strait, one of the world’s busiest and home to three major Malaysian ports. 

Loke said that the impact of the land bridge is expected to be limited to Malaysia’s northernmost major port in Penang, with its two biggest ports in Klang and Johor set to be unscathed.

“This project might take 15 years to implement — if it is started,” he said.