The Office of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) is inviting foreign investors to get involved in Phase 2 of the project and promising them more attractive incentives, says Chula Sukmanop, the office’s secretary-general.
Mr Chula made the comments on Wednesday at a forum during the Bangkok Post Tech Conference 2023 dubbed “Thailand’s Innovation Redefined: New S-Curve, AI, and Virtual Banking” at Centara Grand at CentralWorld.
The EEC covers parts of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao provinces and has targeted 12 S-curve industries including electric vehicles and smart electronics.
Mr Chula said the EEC is now entering its second phase and the office has prepared incentives to attract more foreign investors.
He described the EEC as the “second chapter” of the Eastern Seaboard, explaining the government had tried to improve on that when it set up the EEC around six years ago.
The 12 targeted industries are EVs; 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.
The EEC has already passed Phase 1 of its investment plan and exceeded its target of spending US$50 billion to improve basic infrastructure and boost investment, such as completing Phase 3 of Laem Chabang Port and Phase 3 of Map Ta Phut Industrial Port.
Phase 2 incentives
Mr Chula said the investment target for Phase 2 (2022-26) is around $65 billion.
To reach that goal, five industrial clusters have emerged to support the 12 targeted industries. They are medical health and wellbeing, 5G and digitisation, next-generation automotive products, the bio-circular-green economy, and services.
The EEC office will provide incentives for foreign entities that invest in those five clusters or 12 industries, he said.
“If they come here to invest in those industries on any of the 26 industrial estates or two industrial clusters, there will be incentives available under the EEC Act,” Mr Chula said, adding the so-called EEC Incentive Package would include tax benefits and exemptions.
Investors are not obliged to pay any corporate income tax while operating in the EEC for up to 15 years, he said.
“If you come with a bigger investment, you may receive a longer corporate income tax exemption,” he said.
“This also includes personal income tax for expat families. And exemptions from import duties when it comes to bringing in equipment for production. Also, we have some favourable regulations relating to customs duties and formalities.”
Foreign entities will also receive a special EEC visa and their staff can apply for LTR (long-term residence) visas or five years or more, depending on the contracts signed with their companies.
“So with this visa they will automatically get a work permit, meaning they won’t need to apply for another visa and work permit. It comes as a whole package,’’ Mr Chula said.
The EEC also serves as a regulatory sandbox, meaning that licences relating to other laws can also be issued there. At present the office has the jurisdiction to work on 44 different kinds of licences, he said.
“Investors won’t need to chase 20 agencies just to get a permit or licence to set up their company or work. Most of these — building permits, factory permits or permits relating to certain kinds of operations — can be granted by the EEC office,” Mr Chula said.
“These are just some of the measures that can help smooth the way for foreign investors when they come to do businesses in the EEC.”
Craving more FDI
Mr Chula said the EEC is also busy working on other incentives such as the EEC Smart City project in Bang Lamung district of Chin Buri, which is envisioned as “a new liveable smart city” to ensure this economic corridor woos foreign investors by offering them a more convenient standard of living.
Businesses must be aligned with any of the five clusters or 12 targeted industries and work within the EEC’s seven promotional zones to apply for these incentive packages, he said.
They must also present clear business proposals and are welcome to negotiate with the EEC office on customised incentives, he added.
“The EEC is like an express form of investment. And you can rest assured our office is going to take good care of you. We will ensure that once these foreign investors choose Thailand, their companies and labour forces will be more than satisfied,” My Chula said.
“Once they start working in Thailand, they can also enjoy a premium after-sales service to ensure they have made the right decision to invest here, and we hope they will bring more investors or parts of their supply chain to our country.”