BoI reports a surge in first-quarter foreign investment value

Thailand’s economy is sustaining its appeal among investors despite global trade tensions, as the Board of Investment said the total value of foreign investment applications surged 253 percent for the first quarter of the year.

Japan and China, the economic powerhouses of Northeast Asia, led all other countries in investing in Thailand, with Southeast Asian neighbor Singapore in third place, said Board of Investment (BoI) Secretary-General Duangjai, Asawachintachit at a press conference last week.

Investment is one of the three main pillars of the Thai economy. Exports are the most prominent pillar, but similar to other countries, Thai exports have been slowing as a result of the fallout from the trade disputes between the United States and China. An increase in investment would contribute to counterbalance the effects of less trade.

Investment in manufacturing for export has been crucial to Thailand’s development. It was the formula Thailand used for half a century to evolve from an agricultural economy into an industrial force in the region and beyond.

The BoI said that it had received applications for 387 projects, both foreign and domestic, during January to March, a 12 percent rise from the same period last year with a combined value of $4.07 billion. Within that total, the value of foreign investment applications was $2.66 billion.

The Board added that 199 applications, or 51 percent of the total, were for businesses in the 12 sectors the government is targeting for support to help drive Thailand to a more advanced level of development. Their combined value was $1.86 billion.

“Some 29 percent of the foreign applications went to home appliance and electronics projects in the first three months, while 30 percent of the foreign application value went to mining, ceramic and metal sectors,” Duangjai said.

Among domestic investors, however, service industries drew the most investment.