WHA Corporation Plc, the country’s largest industrial estate developer, expects a second straight year of record land sales from companies seeking to diversify away from China, its CEO said on Wednesday.
Mounting trade tensions between the United States and China, coupled with Beijing’s abrupt lifting of its strict zero-Covid policy in December last year, have led to a surge in mainly Chinese investment from companies seeking alternative locations.
“This has impacted them, and it seems like a catalyst for those invested in China to move out,” CEO Jareeporn Jarukornsakul told Reuters.
WHA, which operates over a dozen industrial estates across Thailand and Vietnam, has seen inquiries and purchases by Chinese companies rocket since the pandemic eased, helping to double its annual land sales from pre-pandemic levels, she said.
In 2023, WHA will likely sell more than 2,000 rai of land in both countries — exceeding its annual target and its 2022 performance of 1,899 rai, said Ms Jareeporn.
Since the pandemic, around half of WHA’s industrial land sales in Thailand have been made to Chinese investors, who have also taken some 80% of the group’s offerings in Vietnam, she said.
Chinese investment proposals in Thailand grew 87% to 25 billion baht in the first quarter of the year, compared to the same period last year, according to the Board of Investment.
A wave of Chinese investment — including many smaller firms that supply bigger mainland manufacturers — has also entered Vietnam since December.
To meet rising demand — much of it coming from Chinese automakers and Taiwanese electronics companies — WHA is aiming to expand its industrial land portfolio by nearly 30% in the next few years to 100,000 rai, she said.
In eastern Thailand, for example, the Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD Co is building a new facility on a 600-rai plot in a WHA industrial estate.
WHA’s clients in Vietnam include suppliers to Apple such as the China-based electronics firm Goertek Inc and Taiwan-based Foxconn, with which it is working on a new facility, according to the provincial government’s website.
WHA shares closed on Wednesday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 4.52 baht, down 6 satang, in trade worth 186.6 million baht.