U.S. government investment agency bullish on Thailand

Thailand’s infrastructure development is driving connectivity and dynamism in the Southeast Asian region, the head of the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) the U.S. government’s development-financing arm said last week, adding that his institution is working with the Thai government to explore business opportunities.

“We are seeking cooperation with the Thai government on the business opportunities in Southeast Asia,” said David Bohigian, executive vice president of OPIC.

Bohigian met with Kobsak Pootrakul, the Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, in Bangkok during his visit. Bohigian credited Thailand’s role in investing in and accelerating the development of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam.

“The dynamism in Southeast Asian growth that we’ve seen is very impressive, as is the economic reform being undertaking by the Thai government. We hope to see continuity of infrastructure connectivity development,” he said.

OPIC mobilizes U.S. private investment to support and assist “development challenges” overseas, and advance U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives. The organization is particularly interested in aiding American private-sector companies to enter and navigate investing in emerging economies. OPIC currently has an investment portfolio valued at $23.2 billion in the Indo-Pacific region.

Thailand has undertaken a steady series of reforms that have increased openness, improved efficiency and resulted in the Kingdom receiving a substantially higher ranking in the World Bank’s annual Ease of Doing Business index. The government has launched a multi-year advanced infrastructure development program worth as much as $100 billion and that uses public-private partnerships as the investment model. Much of the development is centered on the Eastern Economic Corridor, the three-province advanced development zone east of Bangkok.

Bohigian said that his organization is analyzing and interested in those infrastructure projects that include high-speed rail, ports, and airports. Other projects that build or enhance connectivity also hold interest for OPIC, he said.

OPIC has an office in Bangkok and does business in 29 countries in the Indo-Pacific region. It can provide direct loans and guarantees of up to $350 million for each country. It also offers insurance coverage to those companies to hedge against risks that include expropriation, regulatory risk, political violence, and breach of contract.

Photo courtesy of https://www.opic.gov/press-releases/2018/opic-evp-meets-thailand-officials-and-business-leaders-visit-promote-us-investment-southeast-asia