Thailand is counting on Japan to play a bigger role not only in the country but also in Asean, asking the Japanese to join the development of a high-speed train network in the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC).
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said Thailand is continuing its plan of developing the EWEC along with the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and is confident that the two projects can complement each other and create higher trade and investment value.
"China has already started investing in a rail project to link southern China to Asean," Mr Somkid said yesterday at a seminar titled "Thailand 4.0 Towards Connected Industries". "It is now the appropriate time for Japan to lend support to developing the rail link from the east to the west of Asean."
Some 600 Japanese investors at the seminar took part in celebrating 130 years of relations between Thailand and Japan.
Mr Somkid said the high-speed rail project will initially link the east side of Asean, starting from central Vietnam, to Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, eventually reaching India. The goal is to create greater economic value for the countries involved.
He said Japan has studied how the EWEC project can benefit Japanese investors in the region.
The EWEC will link Myawaddy, Myanmar with Tak and Mukdahan, proceeding to Savannakhet, Laos and Vietnam, passing millions of people along the route, before branching out to India.
"That will also help increase the number of consumers along the EWEC to over a billion people, including India and its neighbours, such as Bangladesh," Mr Somkid said.
He said Japan has also started investing in developing land transport in the EWEC zone, with the development of rail systems helping lower logistics costs and benefiting the entire region.
The Thai government will link the EWEC to the EEC, further enhancing benefits beyond Thailand's borders, Mr Somkid said.
He said work is being done to attract major Japanese investors to develop big data analytics systems in Thailand, particularly in the EEC, as the process will play a major role in supporting greater use of automation in the near future, when the country is set to transition to Thailand 4.0.
"It would be great if Japan would invest in big data analytics and help train Thais to have the same expertise," Mr Somkid said.
Thailand also aims to team up with Japanese investors to expand business in Asean.
"This will help train Thai businesses to go abroad, having gained greater experiences from Japanese investors, while Thai investors will provide familiarity in the Asean region to help smooth business expansion," he said.