BoI's 6-point approach to Japan
Keying on roadshows, board seeks investment in industries tied to Eastern Economic Corridor
The Board of Investment (BoI) has been instructed to rev up efforts to attract Japanese investment, with a focus on six categories: automobiles; robotics; machinery; medical devices; food, agriculture and biotechnology; and aerospace.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak recently tasked the BoI with organising promotional investment activities in every prefecture of Japan, in line with last week's trip to Mie prefecture in the Kansai region of Honshu island, said secretary-general Duangjai Asawachintachit,
Ms Duangjai said the BoI typically organises 10 trade missions to Japan each year.
This year, the BoI has already held two roadshows in Japan to attract local investors to the much-touted Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) -- one in February in Fukuoka prefecture and the other in Mie and Aichi prefectures last week.
Thailand and Mie prefecture agreed to jointly establish the Mie-Thai agro-industrial cooperation centre at the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) in Rayong.
The centre will focus on two industries, future food and food processing. Apart from the agro-industrial centre, Mie prefecture and Thailand's Industry Ministry plan to work to persuade the private sector and educational institutes from both countries to form partnerships.
Thai officials are hopeful that Mie will become instrumental in driving startup development and cooperation between Thailand and Japan.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from Mie prefecture are also keen on investing in the EEC, especially in food technology, chemicals, electronics, aviation, biotechnology, medical equipment, education and tourism.
Last November, Mr Suzuki led 30 executives from 23 SMEs to Thailand to learn about the EEC, particularly in terms of investment in food technology, as Thai food producers still lack proper processing technology for exports.
Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said Aichi prefecture boasts industries that conform with 10 targeted sectors which the government has been promoting to drive economic growth.
The 10 targeted 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.
Mr Uttama said there are 7,000 Japanese companies operating in Thailand, 300 of which are from Aichi prefecture.
He predicted the number of Japanese firms operating in Thailand to reach 10,000 over the next 2-3 years, boosted by the EEC.
There are 1,016 Japanese companies that have already invested in the EEC, he said.
Ms Duangjai said the next Japan roadshow is bound for Hokkaido, famous for its service industry. Details have yet to be made available for that trip.
The BoI reported that Thai and foreign companies submitted applications for incentives on 1,456 projects with a value of 641 billion baht in 2017, up 7% from the year before.
The figure exceeded the BoI's projection of 600 billion baht.
Ms Duangjai said the state's megaprojects and overseas roadshows could attract numerous investors to submit applications.
Of the total projects, the EEC contributed 388 worth 269 billion baht, while the S-curve industries accounted for 392 billion baht.
Last year, Japan applied for the highest number of investment applications in Thailand, valued at 133 billion baht. Singapore came second at 40 billion baht, followed by China (27 billion), the US (20 billion) and the Netherlands (15 billion).
The BoI is aiming for 720 billion baht in investment applications this year.
According to the BoI's latest report, investment applications filed for the board's privileges totalled 754 projects for the first six months of this year, up 22% from the same period of 2017, with an investment cost of 284.6 billion baht, similar to last year's level.