Thailand 'can be FDI hub'

Thailand 'can be FDI hub'

Crown Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde (fourth and third from right) listen to the briefing at the forum entitled
Crown Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde (fourth and third from right) listen to the briefing at the forum entitled "Thailand at a Glance" at The St. Regis Bangkok on Mar 18, 2013.

Foreign investors should consider using Thailand as a regional hub and a springboard to faster-growing Greater Mekong economies given massive infrastructure plans to strengthen regional connectivity, say Thai and European experts.

Crown Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde (fourth and third from right) listen to the briefing at the forum entitled ‘‘Thailand at a Glance’’ at The St. Regis Bangkok on Mar 18, 2013.

Despite Singapore's lead in terms of competitive tax rates and Vietnam's rising competition, Thailand is an attractive location for regional offices of companies investing in newly opened Myanmar, says Simon Makinson, vice-chairman of the European Asian Business Centre.

Thailand is a good place to invest and a strategic base for Indochina, he told a forum entitled "Thailand at a Glance" as part of a Belgian economic mission to Thailand.

"Thailand has become much more competitive in terms of corporate income tax rates," Mr Makinson said, referring to the reduction from 30% two years ago to 23% last year and 20% this year.

"For the emerging Asean, Thailand is one of the countries you think about."

Headed by Crown Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde, more than 150 executives of about 100 Belgian companies are visiting Thailand, the second economic mission from Belgium since 2001.

Board of Industry secretary-general Udom Wongwiwatchai told the forum that Thailand is strategically located right at the centre of Asia.

"With the Asean Economic Community taking shape, Thailand could be a springboard serving this large market of 600 million people and a gateway to the faster-growing markets in the region," he said.

Thailand has ample investment opportunities especially in food, automotive, renewable energy and machinery sectors, said Mr Udom, adding that Belgium investors rank eighth among European firms investing in Thailand.

Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, secretary-general of the National Economic Social Development Board, said the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure plan will strengthen Thailand's regional connectivity and allow it to become a hub.

Thailand's logistic costs will be lowered from 15% of gross domestic product, improving competitiveness.

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