A sign seeks to entice Japanese investors when they visited the EEC model show in September last year. PORNPROM SATRABHAYA
The government will be busy this year holding international roadshows to lure more investors to its much-touted Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
Kanit Sangsubhan, the EEC Office secretary-general, said after the government set a time frame for key infrastructure development for the EEC project, this year it plans to attract investment, particularly from China, Japan and Europe.
The EEC committee, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in November last year approved the development schedule for the projects, with the aim of attracting at least 100 billion baht in private investment annually.
Projects to be launched this year include improvements to roads linking Laem Chabang port and U-tapao airport, Map Ta Phut’s port expansion and development of highways in the three EEC provinces.
Other projects are the third phase of Laem Chabang port, an aircraft repair and maintenance hub at U-tapao and the Bangkok-Rayong high-speed rail network.
According to the EEC infrastructure development schedule, the 158-billion-baht Bangkok-Rayong high-speed rail network is required to settle the terms of reference (ToR) and the public-private partnership (PPP) process this month.
The committee also requires private companies tasked with building the project to be chosen by July, with operations to commence in 2023. The rail is designed to link U-tapao, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.
U-tapao airport also needs upgrades to become the aviation centre of the eastern region.
The committee is requiring the ToR for building the second runway of the airport to be settled, with bidding slated for May. The second runway is scheduled to be operational in 2021.
Total investment in the U-tapao project is forecast to top 200 billion baht. Projects in the first phase include a 675-rai commercial area, a new passenger terminal, a new runway, a 200-rai training centre and a free-trade zone spanning 1.52 million square metres.
The committee has scheduled the ToR to be issued by June this year for the third phase of Laem Chabang port. The PPP process is required to be completed by October 2018, with operations to begin in 2025.
The National Environment Policy Committee has already approved the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Laem Chabang project.
The Map Ta Phut port expansion is still pending EIA approval. Bidding for the project is scheduled to open in June 2018, with a PPP investment agreement settled by September 2018. Operations are envisioned by 2024.
Mr Kanit said investment in the 10 targeted industries in the three EEC provinces (Chon Buri, Rayong, Chachoengsao) exceeded 100 billion baht in 2017. He said the prospects this year are promising, as the EEC law is set to come into force.
Many private companies are waiting for the EEC law, including Air Asia, Aerospace, BMW, Nissan, Minor Food Group, Airbus, Lazada and Alibaba, said Mr Kanit.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said he is scheduled to visit the Board of Investment this week to outline his policy for this year after investment applications for BoI privileges in 2017 exceeded the target of 600 billion baht.
According to a source from the Government House, the BoI’s applications in 2017 reached nearly 800 billion baht.
“Private investment is likely to continue this year, so the BoI and related agencies need to be well-prepared,” said Mr Somkid.
“The government also plans to organise myriad international roadshows this year, including in Japan. But the roadshows will focus more on each target province or city where the targeted companies are located.”
He said the EEC is also expected to draw huge investment from China, with more than 100 companies expected to invest in Thailand this year.