BoI surpasses 2018 target
Application value totals B902bn
Investment applications outstripped the goal of 720 billion baht in 2018, bolstered by higher investments in targeted government industries.
The Board of Investment (BoI) revealed on Wednesday applications filed for the BoI's promotional privileges amounted to 902 billion baht in value for 2018, 43% higher than the previous year.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said in the last quarter of 2018, there were hefty applications for petrochemical, bio-economy and electric vehicle projects.
Thai and foreign firms submitted a total of 1,626 projects last year, up 3% from 2017.
Some 84% of the applications were in the government's targeted industries, including digital healthcare, petrochemical, and robotics, with a total value of 758 billion baht.
Applications in new S-curve industries such as digital, medical, petrochemical, robotics and space totalled 539 billion baht, while those in the first S-curve grouping fetched 219 billion, mostly in the farming and bio-economy, smart electronics, smart automotive, tourism and food industries.
Nonetheless, applications in the government's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) initiative slightly dropped from 436 projects in 2017 to 422 projects in 2018.
Total investment for the applications rose to 684 billion baht from 288 billion in 2017.
The BoI set a target of 300 billion baht for investment application value in the EEC in 2018.
Mr Somkid said the BoI's goal is 750 billion baht in investment applications in 2019, slightly higher than last year's target because of uncertain global economic conditions and the deepening trade war between the US and China.
On Wednesday he ordered the BoI to play a more active role in attracting foreign investors during the first half of this year.
"The BoI is a vital government tool to maintain competitiveness," he said.
"The focus should be on continuing to promote targeted industries and high technology, as well as quality projects."
The government is promoting and supporting advanced technological development in 12 targeted industries: cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; medical services; defence; and education development.
Mr Somkid said the first roadshow to promote investment in the 12 targeted industries will be organised late this month in Japan, aiming to lure more Japanese investment from Kansai and Osaka areas, especially in the medical device and space industries.
In March, Chinese and Japanese investors are scheduled to hold a joint meeting on cooperation in investment in Thailand.
"The event will be an important investment opportunity for Thailand and the region because this will be the first destination to host a meeting between Chinese and Japanese investors," he said.
The BoI also plans to organise an annual seminar by early March this year under the theme "the role of Thailand in linking Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam".
Mr Somkid said the BoI this year has been assigned to play a greater role in narrowing income disparity and raising income for small and medium-sized enterprises as well as startups.
Investment in the provinces should be promoted and accelerated this year, he said.
The BoI was also ordered to design appropriate investment projects for the planned Southern Economic Corridor.
Mr Somkid said the BoI, together with the National Economic and Social Development Council, has been instructed to design a Northeast Economic Corridor focused on bio-economy.
He said the BoI should also work out packages to lure more investment in the local economy and tourism in second-tier provinces, as well as housing projects for low-income earners.
"The tourism industry has grown very fast in the past three years, contributing 18-19% to the GDP," said Mr Somkid.
"Tourism has the potential to become another engine to drive economic growth and narrow the income disparity."