Despite bearish investment sentiment caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office still aims to increase investment applications for the corridor by 100 billion baht every year, for a combined 300 billion baht between 2019 and 2021.
Luxmon Attapich, the EEC Office's deputy secretary-general for investment and international affairs, said the pandemic has created new opportunities for investment in Thailand, particularly in the areas of food, medical supplies and services.
"Foreign investors are still confident that the EEC can help drive the Thai economy," she said. "Key infrastructure at the EEC has made good progress, particularly for the high-speed rail network linking three airports and the Eastern Airport City project at U-tapao."
According to Mrs Luxmon, for the remaining six months of the year the government will focus on attracting investment, especially in the food, beauty, medical, aerospace and 5G technology-related businesses.
The government also pledges to try its best to reduce obstacles to those industries, especially in the food and beauty industry, where the regulations and licensing process need revamping.
Thailand is committed to increasing promotional privileges for five new S-curve industries to make them more enticing for foreign investment.
The Board of Investment (BoI) offers an exemption for corporate income tax for 5-8 years for 12 targeted industries, including five new S-curve industries (robotics; aviation and logistics; digital; biofuels and biochemicals; and medical services).
The 12 targeted S-curve industries are 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 BoI recently reported that applications for investment in the three EEC provinces (Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong) in the first five months this year amounted to 74.2 billion baht, down 10% year-on-year.
Investment applications in 10 targeted industries (excluding defence and education development, data for which is still unavailable) for January-May totalled 27.1 billion baht, making up 37% of the total.
Applications for the five new S-curve industries contributed 834 million baht. Those for the old S-curve industries (electrical appliances and electronics; automotive and parts; petrochemical and chemicals; tourism; and agriculture and food processing) made up 26.2 billion baht.
Mrs Luxmon said investment in the EEC is expected to improve in the latter half, driven by higher demand from foreign investors expected to rev up relocation of production bases out of China, due to renewed trade conflict and higher confidence in the government's effective outbreak management.
She said the agency has kept promoting investment via Thai embassies in foreign countries and foreign ambassadors to Thailand, particularly in target countries.
Officials have kept in contact directly with foreign investors via video conferencing. Target markets include China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the US and the EU.