PM courts S Korean investment
Moon vows to help 'Thailand 4.0' goal
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has urged South Korean investors to ramp up investment and trade with Thailand, pledging to consider offering incentives and privileges for them to invest in the country.
Gen Prayut on Monday met South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who led an economic team and more than 500 private companies and investors from South Korea to attend the Thailand-Korea Business Forum during his official visit to Thailand.
Mr Moon is the first South Korean leader to visit Thailand for seven years. Before the forum in the afternoon on Monday, Gen Prayut hosted a meeting with him at Government House in the morning and the two leaders pledged to strengthen their strategic partnership to boost relations between East and Southeast Asia.
The two countries agreed to foster cooperation on issues ranging from security to economics as a way to promote ties.
At the forum, the premier said Thailand has initiated its Thailand 4.0 vision to transform the country's economic structure from an agriculture-based economy into a value or digital-based economy. In addition, the government is also developing the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) for innovative and high-technology industries that South Koreans should consider investing in.
"The Thai government welcomes South Korean investment and is willing to support and facilitate all South Korean investors. I've ordered the Board of Investment and related agencies to work closely with Korean partners to accelerate Korean investment value in Thailand," Gen Prayut said.
To date, 400 South Korean companies have invested in Thailand, while the trade value between Thailand and South Korea stands at US$14-15 billion (428-459 billion baht).
"I hope the number of South Korean companies investing in Thailand will be more than 400 and I also expect to see our bilateral trade value increase to US$20 billion by 2020," Gen Prayut said.
The premier said South Korean companies have several technologies that would suit the EEC project well. He said South Korean companies that bring these technologies and new investments to the EEC would create a win-win situation as they could also use Thailand as a hub to expand their businesses to other countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
Gen Prayut voiced his belief that this is the right time for Thailand and South Korea to tighten their relationship and become trade partners given many infrastructure project developments in the country.
"South Korea has had great experience in turning its country into an advanced economy, so I hope that Thailand can stand to benefit from technology transfer with South Korea in the long run," he said.
Gen Prayut also praised the South Korean president for implementing the "New Southern Policy", which he said will pave the way for the expansion of cooperation with both Thailand and Asean, particularly in terms of the economy, connectivity, development, education and culture.
"As Thailand is now the Asean chair, I confirm that Asean is ready to further and enhance cooperation with South Korea in all respects in order to achieve our shared goals," he said.
Last year, Asean was the second-largest trading partner for South Korea, while South Korea is ranked fifth among Asean's trade partners.
Speaking from the same stage, President Moon said Thailand is now one of the most important partners for his government's New Southern Policy intended to strengthen and broaden partnerships with Southeast Asian nations and India.
"Thailand is a true friend of the Republic of Korea and was the first country to come to its aid amid great turmoil during the Korean War. The Korean people will never forget the dedication and sacrifice of the Thai Korean War veterans and remain grateful to this day," he said.
Mr Moon said that South Korea and Thailand have a tremendous opportunity to become trade partners, adding that South Korea's strengths in many industries identified as targeted industries by the Thai government, including automation, smart automotive, energy, digital technology, among others could help Thailand to achieve its 4.0 goal.