By SOMLUCK SRIMALEE
CHIANG RAI province has the potential to be a gateway for expanding trade and investment with three neighbouring countries
Trade between the province and these neighbouring markets was worth Bt48 billion last year, some 14 per cent higher than bilateral commerce worth Bt42 billion in 2014, Anurat Intorn said, adding that Chiang Rai also had a combined trade surplus with the three countries.
The chamber, meanwhile, targets bilateral trade value reaching Bt50 billion this year.
The main products exported to China, Laos and Myanmar include consumer products, construction materials, agricultural products and processed food.
The chamber chief said Chiang Rai had also been designated a special economic zone (SEZ) under the government’s policy to promote investment in border provinces, as a result of which the province would challenge for both local and foreign businesses wishing to expand their investment.
Chiang Rai, which borders southern China, Laos and Myanmar, has good links to the three countries for the transportation of products via Chiang Khong, Mae Sai and Chiang Saen.
The number of investors expanding their presence in the province is therefore expected to expand as a result of such advantages, he said.
“We have seen CP Land taking over a hotel in Chiang Khong, while SCG Group is interested in investment in warehousing for construction materials, and beverage tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi also owns more land in Chiang Rai, which may be developed into a hotel in the future,” Anurat added.
Meanwhile, enterprises in China are interested in investing in logistics business in Chiang Rai, especially in Chiang Khong district, he added.
Most of these parties are currently waiting to see the benefits that will be provided by the government under the SEZ in Chiang Rai.
Once benefits such as tax incentives are formally announced, they will provide a strong boost for both local and foreign direct investment in the province, particularly in logistics business, agricultural processing, tourism-related business, packaging, jewellery and medicine, he suggested. “Chiang Rai has potential for warehousing, logistics and hospitality business, and our group is interesting in expanding our investment in the province,” said CP Land’s president and chief executive officer, Sunthorn Srunanondchai.
The company is currently developing a hotel in Chiang Khong district, with its next interest being investment in logistics and warehousing in the province to serve increased trade with neighbouring countries, he added.
TCC Land Asset World, a property arm of Charoen, is also interested in developing a hotel in Chiang Rai, said Wallapa Trisorat, its deputy CEO. “Chiang Rai is a province in which we will expand our investment, with a hotel to serve local and foreign visitors, especially for the MICE [meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions] market,” she said.