Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Govt pushes greater investment, skill development in automation and robot tech

Aug 10. 2020
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By THE NATION

The Thai-German Institute has been tasked by the Ministry of Industry with promoting investment in automation and robotics technology in the industrial sector as well as developing manpower that is skilled in the production and maintenance of industrial automation systems and robots.

“The government wants Thai entrepreneurs to be able to design and produce automation systems and robots for industrial use by exempting import tax on automation and robotic parts to help reduce the cost,” Somwang Boonyarakjaroen, the institute president, said.

“Automation and robotics are playing a more important part, especially during the Covid-19 situation where migrant labourers have returned to their home countries, leaving industries with reduced production capacity,” he said.

“Many entrepreneurs are still recovering from economic contraction due to the outbreak and therefore are not ready to invest in automation or robotics, but the institute believes that as the virus situation improves more entrepreneurs would see the importance of alternatives to manual labour,” he added.

“Currently the prices of automation systems and robots imported from China have gone down considerably, which should increase the chance of small and medium-sized operators gaining access to these technologies to improve their production, especially in automotive and electronics industries that would be benefited greatly from robotic labour,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Board of Investment (BOI) revealed that it has employed measures to promote the use of automation systems and robots in manufacturing industries, including granting corporate tax breaks for three years at 50 per cent of the amount of automation and robotic-related investment the company has made in their facilities.

“If the investment has resulted in integration with other industries, or promotion of automation systems in Thailand at not less than 30 per cent of the investment value, the company will be entitled to tax break at 100 per cent of the investment value for three years,” said the source. “The eligible investment value, however, does not include land costs and rotating capital.”

Statistics from BOI revealed that from January 2018 to June 2020, there were 54 companies participating in the campaign with combined investment value in automation systems of over Bt5.6 billion, while 45 per cent of this investment -- Bt2.5 billion -- resulted in integration with other industries or promotion of automation systems in Thailand.

The BOI also reported that in 2019, 12 companies had applied for investment promotion in automation systems and robotics with total investment value of Bt1.02 billion, increasing 580 per cent from that of 2018, when only six companies had applied.

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