EEC investment forecast sees dramatic decline ahead

EEC investment forecast sees dramatic decline ahead

Infrastructure outlay to fall in 2nd phase

A signboard promotes the U-tapao airport, a key mega-project in the EEC. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
A signboard promotes the U-tapao airport, a key mega-project in the EEC. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Infrastructure investment in the government's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) during 2022-2026, seen as the second phase of EEC development, is estimated at only 398 billion baht, a significant drop from 900 billion baht in the first phase of 2018-2021.

Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general to the Eastern Economic Corridor Office, said the second-phase development will target rail and road development to facilitate better transport, address traffic jams in three EEC provinces, and provide rail feeders to link the high-speed network and Laem Chabang deep seaport.

Other key plans include infrastructure projects in smart cities and logistics development.

Most of the investments will be developed via public-private partnership deals.

The Jan 7 meeting of the EEC Policy Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, gave a nod to the second phase of the EEC infrastructure plan between 2022-2026.

Of the total planned investments, 85 billion baht is slated for 2022, with 66 billion baht for 2023, 99 billion baht for 2024, 81 billion baht for 2025 and 67 billion baht for 2026.

According to Mr Kanit, private investment in targeted industries is estimated at 250 billion baht a year during the second phase, with new S-curve industries such as electric vehicles, digital, medical services, logistics, smart farms and food aiming to contribute 100 billion baht in 2022 and 200 billion baht in 2026.

He said the new S-curve industries would be focused on health, wellness, digital, decarbonisation, logistics, and the bio-, circular and green (BCG) economy.

Mr Kanit said outbreaks of the Omicron variant are likely to slightly impact EEC development, while investments in the economic zone remain intact.

The agency is scheduled to hold roadshows in April to attract investment to the EEC.

"The Thai economy is believed to have bottomed out in the third quarter of last year, while the agency forecasts the Thai economy this year will grow by 4%," Mr Kanit said.

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

The area spans a combined 30,000 rai of land in the provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao to accommodate investment in targeted industries, with the focus largely on advanced technology.

Infrastructure projects in the first phase comprise high-speed railway links between three airports; the development of U-tapao airport; and the Map Ta Phut Industrial Port Phase 3 and Laem Chabang Port Phase 3.

The four development projects are worth a combined 655 billion baht, with the private sector providing 416 billion baht and the government making up the remaining 239 billion baht.

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