EEC Act in force after long delay
Law forecast to boost investor confidence
The much-awaited Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Act was finally published in the <i>Royal Gazette</i> Monday after a seven-month delay.
The act should build up investor confidence in Thailand, said Suphan Mongkolsuthee, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).
"Foreign and local investors were waiting for clarity on the new law. Now that the law has been published, investors can move forward with their investment and business plans," he said.
Mr Suphan said the FTI expects to see growing investment in Thailand now that the EEC regulations are on stable ground.
"This year will be the year of real investment in the country," he said.
The 2018 EEC Act is effective today and consists of 73 sections defining policy in the corridor, with plans to utilise land plots for sustainable development and integrate related infrastructure and utilities to connect all areas, both inside and outside of the corridor.
The Act, passed by the National Legislative Assembly in February, covers city planning for the EEC and rules governing expats working there, while facilitating direct investment through a range of incentives.
The much-touted EEC scheme was approved by the cabinet in June 2016, and is aimed at reviving the success of the Eastern Seaboard Development Project, which began in the early 1980s.
The EEC scheme spans 110,168 rai, covering 30 existing and new industrial zones, while the government expects investment value of 1.7 trillion baht in three eastern provinces -- Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong.
The corridor's 10 targeted industries include next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food.
New S-Curve industries planned for the corridor include robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.
According to the EEC Office, the corridor last year accounted for 46% of all investment applications, valued at 296 billion baht, submitted to the Board of Investment.
After the EEC act has been implemented, the government will push five infrastructure projects, including a high speed railway to connect three airports -- Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao -- valued at 200 billion baht.
The third phase of the deep sea port at Map Ta Phut is valued at 11 billion baht, while phase three of Leam Chabang port is valued at 150 billion. The government expects to create an aviation maintenance, repair and operations hub with a value of 200 billion baht.
The EEC scheme is forecast to boost the country's GDP growth to 5% a year, creating more than 100,000 jobs and generating income exceeding 450 billion baht annually.
The long-term goal of the project is to help Thailand escape the middle-income trap.