Industry Ministry targets raising US investment

Industry Ministry targets raising US investment

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak urges the Industry Ministry to speed up invitations to US companies for future investment in Thailand. (Bangkok Post photo)
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak urges the Industry Ministry to speed up invitations to US companies for future investment in Thailand. (Bangkok Post photo)

The Industry Ministry is being urged to speed up invitations to US companies for future investment in Thailand to benefit from rising trade between Southeast Asia and the US under the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

The strategy is now the official policy of Japan and the US, looking to Southeast Asia to expand economies, trade, commerce and investment.

Thailand plays a leadership role in Southeast Asia, including on a sub-regional level through the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy, Mr Somkid said.

Thailand is also keen on its flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme, he said.

"This initiative of Japan and the US could help Thailand stay strong amid rising tensions from the US-China trade war," Mr Somkid said. "We should benefit from this crisis by joining the strategy. The Industry Ministry should move quickly to invite foreign investors moving their operations from China."

He said the ministry set up a new team to hold roadshows abroad in September to attract foreign companies for future investment in the country.

Other Southeast Asian nations such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia are improving their competitiveness and offering attractive incentives and privileges for foreign companies, he said.

"If Thailand moves slowly, we will be left behind," Mr Somkid said.

Moreover, the US-Japan strategy includes military and geo-economic cooperation to confront China's widespread military power in the Pacific and Indian oceans, as well as providing alternative development models to compete with China's massive international infrastructure drive through the Belt and Road Initiative.

According to Mr Somkid, the Industry Ministry is being told to speed up the development of modern agricultural industry to support local farmers, since this sector is a key contributor to the Thai economy.

In addition, Mr Somkid has ordered the Board of Investment (BoI) to improve investment incentives and privileges to attract local and foreign firms.

"The BoI has to adjust its working method to respond to companies' needs for investment, largely in the EEC," he said. "The BoI should move with active strategies, not passive ones, and it should not stay in the comfort zone."

Mr Somkid said the BoI should work on other privileges for small and medium-sized enterprises because they have never received incentives and support measures from the board.

Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said his ministry will work with the BoI and the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand to organise overseas roadshows in September.

"The first destination will be China, as many investors are expected to move their facilities and operations from that country to Thailand," Mr Suriya said.

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