The Thailand Board of Investment announced the roll-out of the Royal Thai government’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) plan, an ambitious and thorough plan to transform the eastern part of Thailand into a key investment, technology and transportation hub for the country and the ASEAN region.

Geographically, the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) spans three Thai provinces: Chachoengsao, Chonburi, and Rayong, which comprise a collective area of 13,285 km sq. This Eastern Seaboard of Thailand has been connected with global business for over three decades and currently serves as a regional center for trade and investment. The new EEC plan proposes infrastructure improvements as well as a designation of the region as a Special Economic Zone in order to attract additional investment and trade to Thailand.

The EEC Plan seeks to capitalize on Thailand’s exceptional location. At the center of the ASEAN region’s economic groups from north to south, Thailand has the distinct advantage of possessing a key strategic location for manufacturing, trading, export, and logistics. Its comprehensive logistical connections allow it unique access to other Asian countries and to the world. Asia is also a driving force for the world’s economic growth, and its combined population of 3.5 billion people constitutes 32% of the world’s GDP, of which Thailand is sitting directly in the geographical middle. U.S. companies such as Ford Motor, General Motors, Dow Chemical and Caterpillar Inc. already have operations in the regions that will constitute the Eastern Economic Corridor, and the new plan is expected to attract additional U.S. investments to Thailand.

“The EEC Plan will allow Thailand to reinforce its current industry strengths and create sustainable business growth in a way that benefits the global business community as well as the Thai economy and people,” said Ms. Ajarin Pattanapanchai, Deputy Secretary General of the Thailand Board of Investment. “The structural improvements and business incentives the Plan offers will cement Thailand’s status as one of the most attractive locations to do business in the ASEAN region.”

The plan calls for the expansion of logistics and transportation systems within the EEC that includes new high speed trains to link the three main international airports in Thailand, Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi, and U-Tapao, as well as double-track rail lines to connect to key industrial zones such as the Laem Chabang, Map Ta Phut and Sattahip Commercial Port, and a new motorway connecting Bangkok to Rayong, which will expand the country’s capacity for heavy traffic.

The EEC Plan also includes a designation for the area as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which will create a regulatory environment that relaxes laws and regulations for businesses looking to relocate to the region. The SEZ designation will allow maximum incentives for qualified investment projects, including the exemption of a corporate tax rate for up to 15 years, exemption of import duties, matching grants, and a 15% personal income tax rate, the lowest rate in ASEAN. The Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi), an innovation district within the SEZ that will serve as the inspirational heart of the region, will foster research and development projects as well as workforce training initiatives and other incentives to help foster innovation that will directly stimulate industry.

“The EEC Plan, and the changes it will bring about, represent the Thailand of the future,” added Deputy Secretary General Pattanapanchai. “The Eastern Economic Corridor will reflect the best of what Thailand has to offer the global market.”

To date, Thailand has seen record-breaking foreign direct investment figures. In 2016, the value of investments to Thailand surged to 584.35 billion baht, about $16.6 billion US dollars, beating its target of 550 billion baht, which lends hope that 2017 investments will pass the 600 billion baht mark.

Source: Thailand Board of Investment (BOI)

Illustration Photo: Research and development for the design of robotic manufacturing cell to work in aircraft component (credits: Tecnalia / Flickr Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))



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