Somkid cosies up to Chinese investors
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on Monday called on Chinese electrical appliance and air conditioner manufacturer Midea Group to expand investing in Thailand, especially for R&D and human resource development.
Mr Somkid told executives of the Chinese firm during his visit to Guangdong that Thailand is geographically positioned as a gateway to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, which have a combined population of over 240 million.
He said the government is looking for more in-depth and concrete cooperation between Thailand and Guangdong province, particularly China's Greater Bay Area (GBA) initiative and Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
The GBA aims to promote cooperation among nine cities in Guangdong -- Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing -- and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, with the aim of developing a world-class city cluster via reforms, innovation and liberalisation.
The GBA has more than 70 million people, with a combined GDP of US$1.5 trillion (47 trillion baht). The area has averaged economic growth of 10.7% a year for several decades.
Mr Somkid said cooperation between the GBA and the EEC will create benefits for the two countries because Thailand is at the centre of the Southeast Asian and Indochina regions. Neighbouring countries experience strong economic growth of 6-8% annually on average, he said.
"The government in September approved new perks such as tax incentives, special investment zones for individual countries and future amendments to the Foreign Business Act to ease foreign investment, all part of efforts to woo investors looking to relocate production to Thailand," he said. "This a good time for Chinese investors in Thailand to reap the benefits."
Paul Fang, chairman and chief executive of Midea, said the company is consulting related parties for investment expansion in Thailand.
Founded 51 years ago, the group has 21 production facilities, including one in Chon Buri province and 260 logistics centres worldwide.
The Thai facility makes 4.5 million units of electrical appliances and employs 4,900 workers. The group has already invested a combined 12 billion baht in Thailand and will soon invest to manufacture 3 million air conditioner units here.