Projects seeking Board of Investment (BoI) privileges were worth a record 1.46 trillion baht in 2012, helped by a big influx of applications towards year-end before new investment promotion policies are introduced later this year.
That value represented a 130% increase from 634 billion baht in 2011, while the number of projects rose by 29.7% to 2,582.
Of the total applications, 2,262 were approved for investment of 984 billion baht including 774 projects by Japanese investors.
Industry Minister Prasert Boonchaisuk, who oversees the BoI, said some large projects rushed to apply for privileges in the final weeks of the year out of concern about the BoI's imminent new investment policies.
The country's investment promotion policy is being revised to focus on industry preferences instead of the current zone-based criteria.
Environmentally friendly, knowledge-based, value-added, high-technology and non-labour-intensive industries will be the focus of the new set of investment privileges, said Mr Prasert.
BoI secretary-general Udom Wongviwatchai said that under the new regime, labour-intensive investment projects will be allowed only if they use either technology that helps to enhance workers' skills or advanced technology.
"Industries that are unable to adapt should invest elsewhere, especially since the BoI is also changing its role from solely promoting foreign investment in Thailand to facilitating Thai businesses wanting to invest abroad," he said.
New industrial clusters will be set up for the processed food, halal, para rubber, fashion, aircraft, and science and technology industries.
Mr Udom said five public hearings on the new policy will be held nationwide starting next Monday before being submitted to the BoI board for approval and put into effect about midyear.
As for 2012, services and utilities accounted for the biggest share in terms of investment value, with 790 projects in this category worth 608 billion baht.
The metal products, machinery, automobiles and auto parts sector came in second, with 610 projects worth 255 billion baht, followed by 327 projects worth 235 billion in the chemicals, plastics and paper sector.
Mr Prasert said this year's target for BoI applications is 600-700 billion baht, about average.
About the author
- Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
Position: News Reporter