Ministry keen on Japanese investment
The Industry Ministry has high expectations of massive investment flows from Japanese investors after the completion of 19 memorandums of understanding throughout 2018.
Kobchai Sungsitthisawad, director-general of the Industrial Promotion Department, said the 19 collaborations are aimed at supporting new investment by Thai and Japanese companies.
In 2018, the Industry Ministry signed agreements with 19 Japanese prefectures, including Nagano, Aichi and Mie, to transfer and exchange innovation and technology.
All agreements are in support of 5,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and connecting large companies from Japan in many industrial sectors via Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).
"We expect to improve Thai companies with their efficiency," Mr Kobchai said. "For the country, the 19 agreements will boost investment flows from Japan to Thailand in the near future."
He said investment value will rise in line with the ministry's cooperation projects.
Moreover, Thailand and Japan have cooperation agreements to support companies in both countries entering the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme.
"In 2019, the ministry expects more investment flows from Japan to expand both in value and number of projects, because they have seen the achievement of the country's megaprojects in the EEC locations," Mr Kobchai said.
The Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) reported that the registered capital value for companies in the EEC provinces is being led by Japan, representing 53% of total registered capital or 363.95 billion baht as of June.
China came second with 41.53 billion baht, accounting for 6%.
Singapore and the US were ranked third and fourth with 28.9 billion and 26.91 billion baht, respectively.
Jetro also cited Board of Investment (BoI) data from 2017 to March 2018 that showed Japanese investors making up the better part with 97.39 billion baht, representing 49% of total applications.
European companies submitted BoI applications worth 23.63 billion baht, accounting for 12%, in the same period, while Singapore was ranked third with 20.36 billion baht, making up 10% of total applications.
Moreover, Thailand and Japan set up a consortium to develop the country's robotics industry and draw a master plan for human resource development to support SMEs gaining access to robotics and system integrators.
The consortium consists of the Industry Ministry, the Technology Promotion Association (Thailand-Japan), the Japan-Thailand Economic Cooperation Society, Jetro and METI.
They set a time frame for cooperation work of three years (2018-21).
Hiroki Mitsumata, president of Jetro Bangkok, said Thailand and Japan are working on a pilot project for nurturing new industries to support and transfer technology and information for Thai and Japanese companies.