By THE NATION
In response to China’s biggest e-commerce company also setting its foothold in Malaysia, Uttama insisted that the group was still interested in Thailand and expected to finalise its investment plans before the end of this year.
He said Alibaba Group planned to use Thailand, whose consumer market is much larger than Malaysia’s, as an e-commerce park – the base for product distribution to CLMV – while its Malaysian unit would concentrate on trade linkages between that country and China.
“The project in which Alibaba will join hands with Thailand is the e-commerce park, which will be the base to distribute products in this region. Its location is being arranged now.
“Meanwhile, a promotional mechanism for Thai SMEs and community enterprises will be created and SMEs will be developed to gain access to e-commerce. This is a big investment that covers a big area in Thailand,” Uttama said.
Customs-related procedures will be in the form of a free-trade zone for product distribution to Thailand’s neighbouring countries.
On Friday, the chief executive officer of Alibaba’s Lazada Group will discuss investment details ranging from imports to exports, taxes and other facilities in Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor.
Kanit Sangsubhan, EEC secretary-general, said Thailand would be the main centre for Alibaba-marketed products to be distributed to CLMV, given this country’s big market and CLMV’s high growth rates. Direct expansion will be made in CLMV when each country is ready.
Alibaba Group has recognised that Thailand has a good logistics system, while the economies of the Kingdom and neighbouring countries will see much higher expansion, he said.
Thai small and medium-sized enterprises that trade through Alibaba will gain benefits that comply with the “Thailand 4.0” policy requiring all businesses to enter e-commerce.
“Alibaba is the global e-commerce giant. Establishing its investment bases in several countries like Indonesia and Malaysia is normal. Meanwhile, Thailand will be the regional base for product distribution,” Kanit said.
He said Alibaba Group, which is considering whether to set up its offices and warehouses in the EEC or at Suvarnabhumi Airport, has been encouraged to locate in the ECC, as its transportation facilities will be good after the expansion of U-tapao International Airport in Rayong province.
Kanit said two investment phases had been set out for 10 targeted industries in the EEC.
In the short term, leading global companies and investors would be persuaded to join Thailand’s manufacturing and technological development as a way to bring about sustainable clusters of targeted industries in the future.
In the long term, Thailand will employ leading technologies as the basis to upgrade the country’s competitiveness with quality projects with high income for young Thais.
So far, several projects have been set out for the EEC. A memorandum of understanding between Thai Airways International and Airbus has been signed for an aircraft-repair centre. There are also plans for cooperation between Zhengzhou International Airport in China’s Henan province and U-tapao International Airport in aviation business.
This week, the CEO of Hirata Corporation, a global giant in production engineering and industrial robots, will discuss with Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak possible investment in the country.