CHONBURI, Thailand, Sept. 18, 2017 : Thailand's Minister of Industry today brought Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Japanese Economy, Trade and Investment Minister, and a delegation of over 570 Japanese investors to the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) to learn more about the government's policy and related measures to boost development in the area.
The delegation was briefed on government EEC development plan, including updates on the government's investment in five major infrastructure projects that support EEC development, the overall investment situation, and the expected joint venture agreements with large companies like Boeing and Airbus. Following the briefing was a visit to Laem Chabang Industrial Estate, Hemaraj Industrial Estate, Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Public Organization) and Vidyasirimedhi Institute.
Dr. Uttama Savanayana, Minister of Industry, said that the Thai government and economic organizations were strongly committed to propelling industrial reform, trade and investment promotion and to connecting Thailand with the world's economic leaders. The EEC is used as the key driver to further develop the country's economic infrastructure.
After the establishment of the EEC Office early this year, he said, the development of the EEC had become more concrete. The government has accelerated investment in basic infrastructure to ensure that the EEC becomes the prime location for strategic investment in Asia. With a strong supporting ecology system, the EEC will have greater capability to become a major production hub with an extensive transportation network, pleasant accommodation and a good balance between work and lifestyle.
The five infrastructure projects being developed to support EEC are:
•U-Tapao Airport Expansion: The airport will be upgraded to become the country's third-largest commercial airport. The airport's capacity will be increased to 5 million passengers in the next five years. In the first phase, an airport city, comprising a passenger terminal, runway and facilities supporting related industries, such as an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) hub, will be developed. In the second phase, U-Tapao Airport will be further expanded to become an aviation city with passenger-handling capacity being increased to 30 million in the next 10 years and 60 million in the next 15 years from now. The airport will serve as a new air transport and logistics hub in the region.
•Construction of high-speed train network linking three airports (Suvarnabhumi Airport, Don Mueang International Airport and U-Tapao Airport): This will support increasing demand for logistic services and to enable seamless rail transport.
•The development of three seaports (Laem Chabang - Sattahip - Map Ta Phut): The Laem Chabang Port Development Phase 3 will enhance the country's international maritime transport capacity. The seaport will then be able to handle 160,000-ton cargo vessels and better support export of three million cars per annum. At the same time, the Map Ta Phut Port Development Plan Phase 3 will make the seaport a significant liquid cargo and natural gas terminal which will strengthen transport network and support related industries. Meanwhile, the development of Sattahip Port will enable larger cruise ship handling. This reflects the integration of economic development and tourism.
•Measures to draw investment in the 10 target industries: The government expects to welcome Japanese investment in future industries through advanced technology transfer and the establishment of an S-Curve industry zone. It is forecasted that in the next five years, US$14 million will be invested in the future automotive industry, aviation, robotics, smart electronics, medical and healthcare industry, petro- and bio-chemicals.
•Eco-city development: Sustainable industry development will be implemented through natural resource protection and rehabilitation to minimize impact on society. The Ministry of Industry has introduced the "Smart" concept in city development -- Smart City where digital technology is adopted to enhance people's quality of life, Smart Growth where a new concept of land management enables people and bicycles to share the roads, and Low Carbon Society (LCS) where everyone is involved in actively reducing carbon dioxide emissions in daily life and from industrial activities. It is estimated that the investment from the government and private sector in the cities development will reach at least US$43 billion (1.5 trillion baht) in the first five years.
Dr. Uttama added that during the first six months of 2017 (January-June 2017), the investment promotion application in EEC applied through the BOI accounts for 87.43 billion baht, representing 30 percent of total applications received. Out of this, applications for investment in the 10 target industries valued 133.50 billion baht, which accounts for 46 per cent of the total applications for investment in EEC.
In addition, the government announced that 1,466 rai of land in Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong Province will be allocated for robotics and automation industries.
To promote investment in the 10 target industries, the government has approached many large companies in various sectors including automotive, digital and aviation. Some companies in aviation industry have shown interest in joint venture for investment in MRO business in the EEC area and the joint venture agreement is expected to be signed in early 2018.
The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and the Ministry of Industry will promote investment in the EEC Digital Park. World's leading companies in digital business aim to finalize their decisions and sign agreements for investment in the EEC in the near future.
In addition, the government has made significant progress in infrastructure projects. The EEC Policy Committee has already approved a budget of US$17 billion for investment in infrastructure improvement. In terms of the public-private sector partnership, the government will complete the partnership condition framework at the end of this year.
For tourism, the government has developed a plan to promote individual cities by highlighting special characteristics of each city. According to the plan, Chachoengsao Province will be promoted for its "Thai Way of Life", Chonburi Province as the "Modern of the East" and Rayong Province as the "Biz City".
The government is also defining areas for the EEC Digital Park (EECd) and EEC of Innovation (EECi) establishment and searching for partners to invest in these zones.
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