Japanese, Chinese firms to survey EEC

Japanese, Chinese firms to survey EEC

Checking feasibility of five infrastructure projects for potential investment or consortium

U-tapao airport is one of five EEC megaprojects that the government expects to attract further investment from Japanese and Chinese companies.
U-tapao airport is one of five EEC megaprojects that the government expects to attract further investment from Japanese and Chinese companies.

Some 200 Japanese and Chinese companies will visit Thailand on April 2 to study the business feasibility of five infrastructure projects in the flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), potentially joining with local companies to form a consortium for bidding, says the EEC Office.

Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, said the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade will hold seminars and business matching events for the EEC scheme in Bangkok on that day.

Both countries will bring 100 companies each to the event, while the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Chamber of Commerce will usher in 100 local companies as well.

The event is based on agreements with Japan and China signed last May to encourage investment from companies in both countries.

"The EEC scheme has been chosen as the pilot location in Southeast Asia," Mr Kanit said. "They will also cooperate with the government to support loans in a bid to push forward all five megaprojects to take place as planned."

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation will offer financing for Japanese and Chinese companies that join development of the five megaprojects in the three EEC provinces of Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong, Mr Kanit said.

He said each company has to join five key megaprojects in the EEC through any form of investment -- solo bids or consortiums -- as Japan and China will provide the loans for their companies.

The projects consist of a high-speed railway connecting three airports, Map Ta Phut port, Laem Chabang port, an aviation maintenance, overhaul and repair centre, and U-tapao airport.

Together the five projects are worth 694.53 billion baht.

Mr Kanit said the infrastructure projects in the EEC scheme are expected to contribute 820 billion baht to the economy and create 475,668 new jobs.

Furthermore, the government aims to generate 650 billion baht from investment in the five projects. Some 200 billion baht will go to the state, with the remainder to private companies.

Mr Kanit said the EEC is the country's premier special economic zone and is expected to draw more than 1.7 trillion baht in investment value by 2021.

In addition, he said the EEC Office will speed up bidding for the five megaprojects and propose the winning bidders to the cabinet by April.

The EEC Office reported in its two-year footprint (2017-18) that the scheme contributed to the country's GDP growth of 3.3% in 2017 and 4.2% in 2018.

"The economy is projected to expand at a faster pace in the next five years, gaining 2% more annually," Mr Kanit said.

According to the Board of Investment, applications filed for promotional privileges amounted to 902 billion baht for 2018, 43% higher than in the previous year.

Some 84% of the applications were in the government's targeted industries, including digital healthcare, petrochemicals and robotics, with a total value of 758 billion baht.

Applications for 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 baht, mostly in farming/bioeconomy, smart electronics, smart automotive, tourism and food.

Applications for the EEC dipped slightly from 436 projects in 2017 to 422 in 2018, but total investment for the applications rose to 684 billion baht from 288 billion in 2017.

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