Monday, April 06, 2020

Growing interest from China in Thailand’s EEC

Sep 02. 2018
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By Suwatchai Songwanich
Chief executive Officer,
Bangkok Bank (China)

There has been a steady stream of Chinese delegations coming to Thailand to look at business opportunities, particularly in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

Most recently a group of high-ranking Chinese officials and executives met with Thai counterparts at the 6th meeting of the Joint Committee on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation between Thailand and China, which was co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Chinese State Councillor Wang Yong. 

After the meetings in Bangkok Deputy Prime Minister Somkid and State Councillor Wang Yong led delegates on a visit to several sites in the EEC: U-Tapao Airport, Laem Chabang seaport, and two industrial estates in Rayong. 

The Thai government plans developments worth close to Bt 1 trillion in the EEC including construction of a high-speed rail link between Thailand’s major international airports, Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and 

U-Tapao, the scaling up of U-Tapao into a major regional airport accommodating 60 million passengers a year, the expansion of the Laem Chabang, Map Ta Phut and Sattahip seaports, and the development of an “airport city” and aviation-related logistics hub. There are also plans for the development of new economic zones focused on R&D and innovation.

Deputy PM Somkid said that in addition to infrastructure development Chinese investors are interested in new technology and innovation in the EEC locations. This was reinforced by State Councillor Wang who said that apart from the high-speed railway linking three airports, investors are interested in new-generation vehicles, smart logistics, digital infrastructure, education, energy, tourism and satellites. Reflecting the last item, an MoU on space cooperation between Geo-informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) of Thailand and the National Space Administration of China was among the five agreements signed during this meeting.

Bangkok Bank has certainly seen a shift in the direction of Chinese investment in Thailand towards more high-value industries. We have hosted several visiting delegations looking at investment opportunities and our role was formalised earlier this year when we signed an MoU with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council as a strategic partner to increase trade and investment under the Belt and Road Initiative. 

The intention of the Thai government is to use the EEC as a magnet to boost Thailand’s attractiveness as a logistics hub linking Thailand and other Asean countries with global investors as well as to attract targeted industries to invest in the EEC.

This certainly seems to be working with Chinese investors. 

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