The floods hitting Thailand's eastern region are unlikely to disrupt factories on the Eastern Seaboard or deter investment in the area, say leading industrial estate operators.
Vehicles navigate water at Wellgrow Industrial Estate in Bang Pakong district, Chachoengsao after Wednesday’s rain. SONTANAPORN INCHAN
Anchalee Chavanich, president of the Thai Industrial Estate and Strategic Partner Association, said overall investment in Thailand remains strong despite a short-term decline in exports.
Thailand has competitive advantages that continue to attract investment. Thai industrial estates are expected to attract more Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
But Mrs Anchalee acknowledged that Thailand still lags behind in infrastructure development, an issue that could be solved by the government's 2-trillion-baht megaproject plan.
David Nardone, president and chief executive of the SET-listed Hemaraj Land and Development Plc, said investment in industrial estates remains steady even as exports are being hit by the global economic slowdown.
"After the 2011 floods, industries recovered very quickly and I expect that to happen now also," he said. "In general, industrial estates in the Eastern Seaboard have been mostly safe, so there won't be any negative impact whatsoever."
At present, Hemaraj runs six industrial estates and four logistics parks on the Eastern Seaboard. The seventh industrial estate will open by year-end in Si Racha, pending an environmental review.
The company has seen a slight increase in new customers from India and China such as Shanghai Automotive, said Mr Nardone.
Hemaraj executive director Sawasdi Horrungruang said that despite the growing appeal of Myanmar, the lack of reliable basic infrastructure there remains a concern. The country's internal conflicts with ethnic minorities have also delayed development.
Atchaka Sibunruang, deputy permanent secretary of the Industry Ministry, said 14 manufacturers in Prachin Buri have suspended operations because of the floods, affecting 120 workers.
Seven SMEs and 10 community enterprises have seen flood damage.
"The figures are reported as of this week and are expected to continue to rise," said Mrs Atchaka, also acting director-general of the Department of Industrial Promotion (DIP).
"These enterprises have been hit quite heavily by the floods, as the water level escalated quickly. Since they were unable to launch preventive measures in time, there was damage to machinery, raw materials and inventory."
The affected companies have asked government agencies for help in repairing or replacing damaged machinery.
To minimise the impact in terms of unemployment and social problems, the DIP will move quickly to rehabilitate the businesses and prepare them for future floods, said Mrs Atchaka.