By PHUWIT LIMVIPHUWAT
While the 2019 target of Bt750 billion exceeds that of last year’s Bt720 billion, it has been described as conservative.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the focus would be on quality investments amid a more sluggish economic environment.
“We will increase the role of the BoI in reducing inequality in the country and encourage investment in areas that address this issue instead of only focusing on the manufacturing industry,” Somkid said at a press conference yesterday.
Investors that are looking to put their money into improving the agricultural industry, the quality of the workforce, or developing logistics facilities along tourist routes will need to receive investment advantages, he said.
Somkid outlined his intentions to make tourism a key driver of economic growth for 2019.
“Tourism now contributes more than 15 per cent of the Thailand's GDP. It has significant impacts on Thailand’s employment, production and general economic growth,” he said. “From now on, we will need to encourage investment in all other industries to centre around tourism.
Kobsak Pootrakool, the Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, said: “We have made a modest target on the total investment figure for 2019 because of the uncertain global economic situation, especially the uncertain impacts of the ongoing US-China trade war.”
When asked whether the postponement of the general election – most recently from a pledged date in February - has damaged the investment sentiment for 2019, Kobsak said that the election would also bring benefits for the investment outlook.
“For example, the current government is determined to finish key investment projects in the EEC before the election, such as the development of the U-Tapao airport,” he said.
BoI secretary-general Duangjai Asawachintachit said applications for investment privileges had been submitted for 1,626 projects in 2018, for a combined valuation of Bt901.77 billion.
This figure exceeded the BoI’s target for 2018 by up to 25 per cent. Of the total value, Bt680 billion was for projects in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), Duangjai said.
Some 84 per cent of the projects in 2018 were in the five targeted New S-curve industries, comprising digital businesses, medical hubs, biofuel and biochemicals, robotics and automation, and aviation and logistics, Duangjai said. These projects were valued at Bt758 billion.
“The BoI will continue to attract foreign investment from key investors such as China and Japan, which have jointly stated that they want to corporate in investing in Thailand,” Kobsak said.
The BoI will hold investment events to capitalise on this opportunity and attract more foreign direct investment into the Kingdom, especially in the first half of 2019, he said.