EEC Office readies BoI-style tax incentives for SEZ investors

EEC Office readies BoI-style tax incentives for SEZ investors

Law allows BoI-style tax relief in corridor

The Eastern Economic Corridor Office is set to offer privileges directly to investors in special economic zones in the three provinces of the EEC.

Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, said Section 59 of the EEC Act lets the EEC Policy Committee offer privileges equal to those awarded by the Board of Investment (BoI).

Eligible investment must be in targeted industries and located in special promotion zones in the three provinces of the EEC, the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation, the Eastern Economic Corridor of Digital and the Eastern Airport City project at U-tapao.

The EEC is part of the government's strategy to move Thailand towards a high-tech economy.

Spanning Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong provinces, the EEC hosts 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.

Mr Kanit said the agency is empowered to offer a corporate income tax exemption for eight years and a 50% reduction in corporate income tax for an additional five years after the tax holiday, as currently offered by the BoI.

The agency has kept up promotional activities to attract investors during the pandemic and recently organised a video conference with Thai ambassadors in targeted countries, asking them to help attract more foreign firms to invest in the EEC -- especially in industries related to 5G technology, logistics, medical equipment, healthcare and smart cities.

"The agency is not concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the EEC, now that most investors are making investment decisions for the long term," Mr Kanit said.

He predicts real investment worth 70 billion baht in 2021, largely from the EEC's four main infrastructure projects: the high-speed rail linking three key airports, the second runway of U-tapao airport, the third phase of Map Ta Phut port and Laem Chabang deep-sea port, which is expected to have an investment contract signed in August.

The EEC Office is scheduled to make a proposal to the EEC Policy Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha this month to approve in principle the development of smart city projects.

The agency needs to speed up smart city development to cope with demand from an additional 1 million people in the EEC area over the next 15-20 years.

The office has also implemented a training programme to upgrade human resources to meet the demand of investors in the EEC and teamed up with private companies in the corridor to organise training to upgrade 7,000 skilled workers, especially in the automotive industry.

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