Kanit: Hard to attract new US investment
Talks with Boeing Co about its plan to invest in an aviation training centre for the Asean region in the Eastern Economic Corridor are expected to conclude this month, according to EEC Office secretary general Kanit Sangsubhan.
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) expects private investors to start real investment in the flagship investment area by the first quarter of next year, when confidence among foreign investors about putting money into Thailand should be stronger, it said.
Mr Kanit said Boeing had sent a group of representatives to observe U-tapao airport and seek more investment information from Thai authorities. The Chicago-based aircraft maker has expressed interest to build its training centre in the EEC to be a hub for Asean.
“We are now talking about detail in every aspect with Boeing and we expect to be ready to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU) this month,” Mr Kanit told the Bangkok Post. “We expect Boeing to start its investment shortly after signing the MoU.”
Boeing is one of two major global aviation companies keen to start investing in the EEC after Airbus’s plan to invest in a maintenance, repair and operations centre in the U-tapao area.
The talks with Boeing were part of the government’s push to attract more US investors to invest in Thailand during Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s official visit of to the US in early October.
During the visit, senior government officials met US industry leaders to present Thailand’s infrastructure projects and reiterate the government’s full support for new investment, particularly in the EEC.
However, Mr Kanit admitted it is hard to attract new investment from the US, particularly when President Donald Trump has policies to encourage US businesses to stay home instead of expanding outside the country.
“But, it does not mean that we cannot woo any new investment, since there are some US companies that have already invested in Thailand for years that want to expand,” said Mr Kanit.
US carmaker Ford Motor Co, for instance, has already invested in Thailand and is about to draft its business expansion plan in the EEC area, he said.
The private sector expects the National Legislative Assembly to approve the EEC law governing investment activities by the end of this year to pave the way for both Thai and foreign investors to start real investment within the first half of 2018.
FTI vice-chairman Kriangkrai Tiannukul said the approval of the first civilian EEC law would encourage foreign investment in Thailand.
“The EEC law is a much-awaited factor as it would help increase confidence among foreign investors. Its implementation should encourage investment by early next year,” said Mr Kriangkrai.
He said there are many Thais who also want to invest in the EEC. But the EEC was designed to accommodate high-tech industries, which require massive investment budgets, making Thai investors to look for strategic partners.
With the EEC set to be major growth engine to drive the country’s economy, the FTI expects GDP to grow at a higher rate next year, and utilisation and industrial capacity to rise to 80%, up from around 53.6%.
“The start of private investment in the EEC should encourage investors to install new machines and employ more people and create more jobs, all of which should give a boost to the economy,” said Mr Kriangkrai.
Thai Airways’ first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Boeing’s plan to build an aviation training centre in the EEC will be revealed soon. TAWEECHAI TAWATPAKORN