Chinese, Saudi investors ‘show interest’ in Thailand’s Land Bridge mega-project


Investors from cash-rich China and Saudi Arabia have shown interest in the Land Bridge mega-project linking the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.

The project, expected to require about 1 trillion baht in investment, is being touted by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin after his Cabinet gave it the go-ahead on October 16.

Kriengkrai Thiennukul, Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) chairman, said Srettha met Chinese investors during his trip and many showed interest in investing on the development of deep-sea ports that are part of the Land Bridge.

He said Saudi Arabian investors have also shown interest in investing in large oil terminals to cover supplies to Southeast Asian countries and China.

Kriengkrai said investments from China continue flowing into the country, especially after the PM’s visit.

Srettha was in Beijing on October 17-18 to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. While there, he met senior executives from many Chinese corporations, including Alibaba Group, Xiaomi, CITIC, CRRC, and Ping An.

The Board of Investment (BoI) and three Thai business associations also held a Thailand-China Investment Forum on the sidelines in Beijing to woo Chinese investments in targeted industries.

The production of electric vehicles (EVs) is among the new S-curve industries that are attractive to Chinese investors.

Six EV makers from China have qualified for BoI investment privileges so far, including Great Wall Motor, BYD, SAIC Motor and Changan Automobile.

Chinese, Saudi investors ‘show interest’ in Thailand’s Land Bridge mega-project

“Executives of many other Chinese EV makers sought to meet the prime minister personally. This is a very good sign,” Kriengkrai said.

He said he expects more EV makers from China to invest in Thailand in the future, in addition to suppliers of parts and accessories, including battery and electronic equipment.

Over the first eight months of this year, BoI has received applications from foreign investors for 801 projects in the form of foreign direct investment (FDI) – a 52% increase from the same period last year.

The total FDI amount for those projects is 365.2 billion baht, a 73% increase from the same period last year, according to the agency.

Chinese investors account for the largest number of projects – 228 – with an investment of 90.3 billion baht.

Thailand’s Land Bridge project is designed to link planned deep-sea ports in Ranong on the Andaman coast and Chumphon on the Gulf of Thailand, establishing a new connection between the Indian and Pacific oceans.

The project, a fundamental component of the kingdom’s Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) development plan, aims to significantly enhance the efficiency of global goods shipments, reducing dependence on the congested Straits of Malacca.

Development of the project will be in phases, with the first one expected to be completed in 2030. Once all phases are completed in 2039, both ports will have the capacity to handle approximately 20 million cargo containers annually, according to the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning.