Defence-tied industrial estate on tap
Foreign investors to receive invite to join
The Defence Ministry plans to invite foreign business people to invest in Thailand's first defence industrial estate in Kanchanaburi under the public-private partnership model, as the government seeks to reduce the nation's reliance on foreign weapons imports and position Thailand as a global arms dealer.
The project, to be developed on 3,000 rai of military-owned land in Bo Phloi district, will make Thailand an exporter of military products for neighbouring countries under government-to-government contracts.
Next week the ministry will invite weapons makers and sellers, including those working with Thai firms, for a talk on project details, deputy defence permanent secretary Naphon Sangsomwong said on Tuesday.
The US, China and Czechia are among the countries interested in investing at the defence industrial estate, Gen Naphon said.
Under the project, the ministry plans to build infrastructure and facilities on 1,034 rai during the first phase.
Officials will start by relocating military-owned arms and battery factories to the new area. At present there are 37 arms factories nationwide.
The battery factory, located in Samut Prakan, has output capacity of 16,000 units annually. The products are sold only to military divisions and the State Railway of Thailand.
Other facilities, which will involve the manufacture of armour-clad vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles, firearms and communication devices, as well as a weaponry maintenance centre, will later be built.
Thailand lists defence as the 11th targeted industry under a plan to foster S-curve growth and promote military research and manufacturing for economic and security purposes.
The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand is helping the ministry with the study, which began in May.
The study is expected to finish in two months, Gen Naphon said.
"Kanchanaburi is most suitable for the defence industrial estate because the province is one of the special economic zones (SEZs) set by the government," he said.
SEZs, located in 10 border provinces nationwide, promote business activity between Thailand and neighbouring countries.
The Defence Ministry earlier considered a navy-owned area in Tambon Bang Phra in Chon Buri's Sri Racha district as a location for the new military-industrial complex.
The plan changed after the area was determined to be too small and the navy decided to focus on its existing development project connected with U-tapao airport.