EEC to align with One Belt, One Road

EEC to align with One Belt, One Road

Scheme keen to lure Chinese investment

Mr Uttama says integration offers great potential for China and Thailand.
Mr Uttama says integration offers great potential for China and Thailand.

The government plans to talk about speeding up future investment in its flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project in line with China's One Belt, One Road initiative, says Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak meets high-ranking leaders of the Industry Ministry today about how to attract new investment to the EEC's strategic locations.

Mr Uttama said the government wants to push the EEC as a support valve for China's scheme.

"We believe both schemes offer much potential for China and Thailand, with the EEC set to act as a bridge to attract Chinese investors in the near future," he said.

Mr Uttama said the ministry is confident that the implementation of the EEC Act will begin this month, helping to ensure investors that the government has a clear-cut roadmap for development.

The act is being deliberated by the Council of State, but that consideration has been delayed for over a year because the government believes it has not affected investor confidence, he said.

The government wants to propel the country's economy towards Industry 4.0, which aims to upgrade the industrial sector through the use of high technology.

Chen Namchaisiri, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said actual investment in the EEC project is expected in earnest in the second quarter of this year, due to the likely enactment of the EEC Act.

"Both local and foreign investors are waiting to see any new developments in this scheme, such as if the act is given a new timeline, to determine if it will dampen investor confidence," Mr Chen said.

The EEC project spans three eastern provinces: Rayong, Chon Buri and Chachoengsao.

The Industry 4.0 policy focuses on 10 targeted industries: 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.

The government expects investment in EEC provinces to help increase the country's GDP by 5% a year, amounting to 1.5 trillion baht over the next five years, from investment of 100 billion baht in the 10 targeted industries.

The goal is to increase people's income by 450 billion baht a year, enabling the country to escape the middle-income trap.

In addition, the government is speeding up infrastructure megaprojects such as the Don Mueang-Suvarnabhumi-U-tapao high-speed rail network and the deep-sea ports in Sattahip, Map Ta Phut and Laem Chabang.

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