US auto firms committed to Thai hub

US auto firms committed to Thai hub

Mr Heath (left) met with Mr Jurin on Wednesday to discuss trade and investment.
Mr Heath (left) met with Mr Jurin on Wednesday to discuss trade and investment.

US auto firms remain keen to use Thailand as a regional production base, focusing more on electric vehicles (EV) after Ford Motor Co last Wednesday unveiled an investment of US$900 million to upgrade factories in Thailand that build its Ranger pickups and Everest SUVs, its largest outlay in the country.

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksana-wisit said on Wednesday after a courtesy call by Michael Heath, charge d'affaires of the US mission in Thailand and acting US ambassador to Thailand, that US officials indicated other American automotive companies are interested in using Thailand as a production base, specifically General Motors and Chrysler.

According to Mr Jurin, the US firms are also interested in investment and supporting the bio-, circular, green (BCG) economic development model of Thailand, especially as it hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting next year at which BCG is included as the main agenda item.

He said Thailand is focusing on promoting BCG investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor, especially in the food, biotechnology, medical appliance and healthcare sectors.

The Board of Investment (BoI) recently reported the investment value of projects related to the BCG economic model reached 677 billion baht as of September.

Some 2,829 projects have been granted investment incentive packages by the BoI since 2015.

Renewable energy development and waste-to-energy power plant projects were ranked first, with an investment value of 289 billion baht, among the top five BCG projects.

Coming second was food additives and ingredients based on high technology. Their investment value stood at 94.2 billion baht.

Next is green polymer and chemical products, with an investment value of 41 billion baht, followed by recycled agricultural raw materials, valued at 25.8 billion, and natural rubber, valued at 22.3 billion.

From January to September, the BoI approved 564 BCG projects, a rise of 74% year-on-year.

The investment value skyrocketed by 160% year-on-year to 128 billion baht.

Investment value stood at 93.9 billion baht in the same period last year.

The BoI expects BCG projects to make up 25% of GDP over the next five years.

Mr Jurin said the US government also thanked Thailand for its development and protection of online intellectual property, under the cooperation of the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

For its part, Thailand urged the USTR to remove it from its "Watch List" next year.

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