Japanese government keen on Eastern Economic Corridor


The Eastern Economic Corridor, Thailand’s showcase advanced development zone, will receive stronger support from Japan when that country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry signs a memorandum of understanding this week to promote investment and technology transfer in the corridor during a visit by Thailand’s Minister of Industry.

“We aim to meet around 80 leading Japanese international companies, their supply chains and SMEs (small and medium size enterprises),” said Industry Minister UttamaSavanayana about his upcoming trip. The government has a goal to attract 30 leading multinational firms to invest in the EEC over the next two years, Uttama said.

The Eastern Economic Corridor, or EEC, is an area spanning three Eastern Seaboard provinces that will be home to clusters for 10 advanced industries. These industries are expected to drive Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national strategy to shift Thailand towards an economy and society based on innovation, creativity, research and development and green technologies.

The area is already the Kingdom’s industrial heartland, but is poised for a major upgrade in infrastructure, logistics, rules and regulations to support higher technology development.

“We will provide all the facilities to attract new investment from Japan, while METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) will help provide information for investors to use Thailand as production and logistics bases for trade and investment in the CLMV group,” Uttama said.

The CLMV group consists of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. All are neighboring nations that either share borders with Thailand or are close by. Emerging economies, they have been garnering interest from foreign investors.

With its more advanced development and long track record of welcoming investment and trade, Thailand is the natural trade and industry hub in the immediate region.

Rather than rest on its advantages, Thailand is determined to raise its level of competitiveness. The EEC will be the incubator and showcase for the new higher-technology Thailand.

Japan has long been one of the main investors in Thailand. Although Thailand’s first industrial and economic boom during the 1970s through the 1990s relied first and foremost on investments from domestic players, foreign investment was crucial as more advanced industries from overseas chose Thailand as a manufacturing base because of its stability, openness and cost competitiveness.

Japanese investment was key to that stage of Thailand’s development as every major Japanese industrial company set up production facilities in Thailand, especially in the automotive and electronics sectors.