Japanese on board for EEC, 4.0 push

Japanese on board for EEC, 4.0 push

The Japanese business community has pledged to support the much-touted Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and Thailand 4.0 initiative, two large projects focussed on innovation and technology to foster a value-based economy.

Japan's Chamber of Commerce is ready to urge its members to support EEC development and industrial reform under Thailand 4.0, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak quoted Soji Sakai, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, as saying yesterday.

The EEC, which spans a combined 30,000 rai in the provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao, is intended as a special zone for investment in 10 targeted industries.

The industries are: next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.

“Japanese investors have shown interest in investing in the EEC and they are becoming more confident about Thailand’s investment climate after Mr Somkid led the Thai economic team to visit Japan last week,” said Mr Sakai, who is also president of Marubeni Thailand Co.

During the trip, Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti) on cooperation in restructuring Thai industry.

Under the MoU, Japan will focus on helping upgrade 10 targeted industries the government is promoting as clusters in the EEC. The two countries will also work together to promote “global sourcing” in a bid to ease production costs for Thai and Japanese companies.

As an initial step, both countries will develop manuals explaining their respective industries. Meti will do this in Japan, with the Industry Ministry and Commerce Ministry tasked with doing the same in Thailand.

According to Mr Sakai, Meti is scheduled to lead Japanese investors to visit Thailand on Sept 11 to celebrate 130 years of bilateral trade and investment.

The Japan-Thailand investment seminar will be also held on Sept 11. Japanese investors are expected to visit the planned EEC development sites.

According to the Commerce Ministry, Thailand shipped US$20.6 billion (700 billion baht) worth of exports to Japan last year, up 2.5% from a year earlier. Imports totalled $30.7 billion, down 1.8%.

For the first four months of this year, export shipments fetched $6.74 billion, down 1.5% from the same period in 2016, with imports edging down 1.5% to $10.1 billion.

According to Board of Investment data, Japan was Thailand’s biggest investor in 2016, followed by Singapore and China.

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