EEC targets thrown out as forecasts fogged by crisis

EEC targets thrown out as forecasts fogged by crisis

The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office is set to revise its investment target and strategy for this year as the coronavirus pandemic ravages overall investment sentiment.

Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, said the EEC has been keeping a close watch on investment but it remains difficult to predict because nobody knows how long the pandemic will last.

The EEC is part of the government's strategy to move the economy towards high technology. Spanning Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong provinces, the EEC is expected to host 12 targeted S-curve 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.

The government estimates actual investment value in the corridor at 300 billion baht annually.

For the first quarter of this year, the EEC drew investment applications for a total of 117 projects, up from 116 projects in the same quarter last year, with investment value worth 47.6 billion baht, a sharp drop from 75.1 billion baht in the first quarter of 2019.

The value of investment applications for the EEC made up 67% of total applications worth 71.4 billion baht submitted to the Board of Investment (BoI) in the first quarter.

For 2019, the BoI reported that total investment applications stood at 756 billion baht from 1,624 projects. This value was 7% lower than for 2018 applications, which were worth 815 billion baht, with the number of projects also down 7% from a year earlier.

In 2019, Chinese investment applications surpassed those from Japanese firms for the first time, coming in at almost four times in value at 262 billion baht for 203 projects.

Applications for investment in the flagship EEC amounted to 506 projects, with investment worth 445 billion baht.

According to Mr Kanit, the new investment target and strategy should align with changing investment sentiment, with a focus on promotion of medical services that provide disease and pandemic treatment.

"Thailand should focus on developing equipment to test for infection, vaccines to prevent disease and new medical equipment for emergency rooms," he said.

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