ABN AMRO hints at EEC hub potential

ABN AMRO hints at EEC hub potential

The government aims to attract European finance companies eager to use Thailand as a springboard to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) to invest in the Eastern Economic Corridor's (EEC's) financial centre.

ABN AMRO Bank, the Netherlands' third-largest bank, has asked for details on the progress of the government's policy to promote the country as a financial centre in Asean, a policy announced when the government rolled out the EEC scheme, said Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana.

The government has maintained its goal to develop a financial centre, particularly as a bridge to CLMV markets, he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the government is keen to develop a financial centre to service EEC investors and connect to neighbouring countries, Mr Uttama said.

Swiss drugmaker Roche is looking to establish R&D in Thailand, while Kaspersky Lab has shown interest in investing in cybersecurity here, he said.

Mr Uttama suggested that Roche invest in the EEC to enjoy privileges and government support if the company invests in human research development.

Roche is the world's largest biotech company with differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and diseases of the central nervous system.

Its medical business is among the 10 targeted S-curve industries.

The Roche Group, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, employed more than 91,700 people worldwide in 2015.

Kaspersky Lab is a multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider headquartered in Moscow and operated by a holding company in Britain.

"It's possible that a group of European investors will visit Thailand and the EEC, similar to recent visits by investors from China, Japan and South Korea," Mr Uttama said.

Mr Somkid said many European investors have expressed an interest to invest here and use the EEC as a gateway to neighbouring countries.

Geoff Donald, executive director of the Europe-Asean Business Alliance (EABA), yesterday led 15 large EU companies in the bioeconomy, cybertechnology and medical industries to meet Mr Somkid about investment opportunities in Thailand.

The EABA, a member-driven alliance of European multinationals with significant interests in Asean, serves as a platform for dialogue with governments and regional organisations to discuss issues of relevance to European business in the region.

Mr Somkid said many European companies want to invest in Thailand and complete the Thailand-EU Free Trade Area.

Thailand stands ready to implement the deal when the EU is ready to negotiate on the issue, he said.

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