Over $30 billion in infrastructure on track for EEC

Over $30 billion worth of investments in infrastructure projects for the Eastern Economic Corridor advanced development zone are on track for implementation, the Ministry of Transport said last week, as the government announced a goal of attracting $22.4 billion in new investments this year through further cutting of red tape for those who want to partner in Thailand’s economic transformation.

The target of $22.4 billion in new investments was set by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who oversees the economic ministries. It would be a significant increase over the $18.7 billion target from last year. In fact, Thailand surpassed that target, reeling in just over $20 billion in investments, 44 percent of which were foreign investments.

Somkid tasked the Board of Investment with implementing policies necessary to court foreign investors. He specified three areas the Board should concentrate on: attracting greater numbers of talented experts and those with knowledge and skills needed to advance the economy, holding seminars to court investors, and launching road shows for the same purpose.

Somkid met with BoI officials and told them he wanted the Board to emphasize attracting investment in the agricultural sector and tourism-related businesses. Both agriculture and tourism are economic strengths for the Kingdom. The country welcomed over 35 million visitors last year, and is among the leading global exporters of rice, sugar, seafood, fruits and other commodities.

The agricultural sector is extremely broad and goes well beyond farming. It also encompasses food processing and biotechnology. Biotechnology is one of ten industries receiving special support under Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national strategy designed to lift Thailand to a more advanced level of development in terms of its economy and society.

The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), a three-province region east of Bangkok, is the showcase zone for that strategy. Last year, the Board of Investment received 388 applications for investments in the EEC worth $9.28 billion. Japan and Singapore were the top two investors in the area, with China and the United States third and fourth.

The success of the EEC will be supported by investment and infrastructure. The Ministry of Transport said that 168 infrastructure projects under its purview are on the drawing board to serve the EEC and its operations. Most are already underway or about to enter the implementation stage.

Among the major projects are the Aviation Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Center, U-Tapao International Airport, a high-speed train connecting U-Tapao with airports in Bangkok, the U-Tapao train station, along with the third phase development of Laem Chabang Port and Map Ta Phut Port.

Subsequent development will focus on more transport and logistical links connecting the area to neighboring countries and the region.