NAKHON RATCHASIMA : Northeastern provinces are poised to gain from the Board of Investment's (BoI) new investment policy, thanks to its abundant agricultural clusters in the region.
Suwat: Agriculture is region’s strength
The existing clusters fit well with the BoI's new five-year promotion policy, especially with investments in the alternative fuel sector, said Suwat Liptapanlop, a key figure in the coalition Chart Pattana Party, which is in charge of the Industry Ministry.
"The strength of the region is in the agricultural sector, which uses cassava and sugar cane, for instance, to produce ethanol which reduces energy imports. We can turn this region into a new investment area for alternative energy as well as a food valley," said Mr Suwat, adding that Nakhon Ratchasima has a large number of ethanol plants.
Ten of the 20 northeastern provinces are located near the border, making the region a gateway to Indochina. The government is preparing to invest in a logistics network in the area, adding gas pipelines and motorways.
Covering about 130 industrial sectors, the new regime is set to take effect by mid-year with the BoI deciding which industries are to be promoted based on the 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan.
Last year, 223 projects worth nearly 120 billion baht applied for BoI incentives in the northeast, a two-fold increase in terms of value over 2011. Of the total, 91 projects are in the energy sector with an investment value of 85.67 billion baht.
Services and utilities accounted for the biggest share in terms of investment value, with 91 projects worth 85.66 billion baht.
The agriculture sector came in second with 14.80 billion baht for 71 projects, while 19 projects concerned the metal products, machinery, automobiles and auto parts sectors for a combined 3.14 billion baht.
Chutima Phumsrisawat, director of the BoI's Nakhon Ratchasima investment and economic centre, said investments in the northeast accounted for around 10% of the country's total investment, while those in Nakhon Ratchasima alone made up over half of the region's.
Over 90% of the investors at two industrial estates in the region are Japanese. Ms Chutima said the major floods in 2011 prompted many companies to relocate to the northeast, while investments in alternative energy have increased significantly the past four to five years.
BoI secretary-general Udom Wongviwatchai said the new policy should affect investors' decisions next year.
Five public hearings on the new policy are being held nationwide before it is submitted to the BoI's board for approval.
About the author
- Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
Position: News Reporter