By THE NATION
Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said after a meeting of the special committee for EEC development yesterday that the EEC Policy Committee next year will focus on persuading local and foreign investors to invest in the EEC as well as in areas outside it. It would do so by working closely with the Board of Investment (BOI) and coordinating its efforts with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand.
“Today, other countries have acknowledged the EEC. After this, we will persuade investors in specific industries," he said.
The layout of the land usage - which will extend from utilities, infrastructure and healthcare to tap water and electricity – will seek to maximise the benefits for all kinds activities and the EEC panel would also work closely with the Department of Public Works and Town and Country Planning, he said.
With the first draft on land use to come out early in December, a public hearing will be held on expectations that it will take effect in six months, he said. A plan for expanding the EEC to incorporate other provinces will be forwarded to the EEC Policy Committee on November 9.
Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Policy Committee, said that this meeting would focus on ways of attracting investment in the 10 industries that have been targeted for the EEC. Kanit expressed confidence in the forecast of the EEC drawing at least Bt500 billion in the first five years of the zone’s operation.
About 50 per cent this targeted investment is expected to go into the so-called New S-Curve industries, with the rest in First S-Curve activities.
Among the New S-Curve industries, about 20 per cent of the targeted investment is expected to go into robotics, 20 per cent for aviation and logistics, 25 per cent for biofuels and biochemicals, 25 per cent for digital and 10 per cent for a medical hub.
Investments in the EEC will play a major role in boosting Thailand's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2 per cent (1 per cent each from infrastructure investment and manufacturing investment). Ultimately, about Bt300 billion is expected to be invested annually in the EEC. Some Bt200 billion of this is expected to come with promotional privileges from the Board of Investment and about Bt100 billion from the EEC Office.
Combined with economic growth of about 3 per cent a year, the contribution from the EEC is expected help gross domestic product rise by 5 per cent per year on average from 2019 to 2023.
“It also depends on the global economic situation. If the global economy is not good, it (GDP growth) may not reach 5 per cent," Kanit said.
The meeting yesterday also discussed the establishment of an EEC development fund with initial funding of Bt100 million granted by the government. The fund is targeted to have no less than Bt1 billion, which will be collected mainly from private enterprises investing in the EEC. The fund will be used to develop communities and help people affected by the EEC development and promote education in the zone and nearby areas.
To back the government’s ambitions, an EEC roadshow will be held. For Europe, it will focus on startups and digital technology; for Japan, on robotics, aviation, digital and smart cities; and for China, the 10 targeted industries.
Narit Therdsteerasukdi, deputy secretary-general of the BOI, said that since the start of the EEC in 2016, applications worth Bt720 billion have been made for promotional investment privileges in the EEC.
For the year so far, applications worth about Bt230 billion have been made for such privileges and about 80 per cent of them relate to the New S-Curve industries.
The BOI will help encourage investment by company, focusing on New S-Curve industries and smart cities and the promotional investment package for smart cities will be proposed to the BOI board meeting on November 19, Narit said.