EEC Office upbeat ahead of election
The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project is unlikely to be affected by the upcoming election, thanks to the EEC Act that came into force last May.
The government pushed for the EEC Act to build confidence for investors in Thailand and bolster faith in the country's long-term sustainability as an investment opportunity.
Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, said the corridor will help Thailand's economy expand at a faster pace in the next five years and increase the GDP growth by two percentage points each year.
GDP growth now averages 3-4% a year, and the government expects an increase to 5-6% despite a potential global economic slowdown, due to the government's investment budget of 1.7 trillion baht for five years (2018-22).
The government hopes that by focusing on S-curve industries, the domestic economy will grow rapidly. Plans call for investing 300 billion baht a year in 12 targeted industries.
The industries are next-generation automotive; smart electronics; high-income and medical tourism; efficient agriculture; biotechnology; food innovation; automation and robotics; aerospace; bioenergy and biochemicals; healthcare; defence; and education.
"The EEC project will guarantee that Thailand's economy will continue to grow in the future because it will be a buffer to protect the domestic economy from negative external factors," Mr Kanit said.
According to the Board of Investment (BoI), new EEC projects fell from 436 in 2017 to 422 in 2018. The total investment value of applications, however, rose to 684 billion baht from 288 billion in 2017.
The BoI had set a target of 300 billion baht for EEC investment applications in 2018.
Mr Kanit said the corridor will beef up growth in private-sector investment flows to 10% in the long run, up from 3%.
Paiboon Nalinthrangkurn, chairman of the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations, said the private sector has set high expectations for the general election this year because it's seen as a key factor in driving the economy forward.
"The private sector has acknowledged that we will have a mixed government, and the private sector expects it to continue the policy," Mr Paiboon said.
The private sector is adopting a wait-and-see attitude towards the election, he said.