THE INDUSTRIAL and Commerce Bank of China (Thai) will bring Chinese investors to study logistics development at Laem Chabang Port and U-Tapao International Airport, which are key gateways for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
The move is part of the Chinese bank’s bid to ride the lending opportunities and increase its role as a bridge between Thailand’s and China’s economies.
Zhigang Li, chairman of ICBC (Thai), said on the sidelines of the Sino-Thai Business Investment Forum yesterday that the bank believed Chinese investors would increase their interest in joining the Thai government in public-private partnerships (PPPs) for EEC projects.
The bank will be ready to cooperate in completing the bridge between future industries and the logistics network.
“We right now may not see the figure of Chinese investment under the PPP.
But the bank expects investment from Chinese investors in Thailand in 2017 will grow significantly, as the number of Chinese companies applying to Thailand’s Boardof Investment is on the rise,” he said.
The focuses of Chinese investors in Thailand are the rubber, renewable-energy, solar-farm and agricultural-products industries.
The clear investment road map including the EEC is expected to lure Chinese investment in real estate and hotels in the near future.
The loan portfolio of ICBC (Thai) next year will be increased much from the influx of Chinese investment, Li said.
As of June, ICBC (Thai)’s loans stood at US$3.7 billion (Bt130 billion).
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak wooed Chinese investors to join with the Thai government to invest in PPP projects including the EEC.
During his keynote speech to the forum organised by ICBC (Thai), Somkid said 2017 would be the year that the government would push hard for the implementation of PPP projects.
Under the PPP scheme, the government has set aside $43 billion to build infrastructure over the next five years.
The Cabinet is beginning to hold tenders this quarter. The EEC is the crucial investment.
The government is pushing mega-projects including U-tapao Airport, the expansion of Laem Chabang Port and Map Ta Phut in order to be the transhipment port of the CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) subregion.
On the sidelines of the forum, Somkid told the media that although Chinese investors had poured a lot of money into Thailand already, some had stayed away.
The Thai government hopes the EEC will attract them.
Investors in France and Germany are also interested in Thailand, he said after visiting both countries last week.
The Employers’ Council of France will meet with the prime minister soon and they will return to their home country to bring a group of investors to seek investment opportunities in Thailand, he said.
Kan Trakulhoon, ex-president of Siam Cement Group and a member of the supervising committee of the Eastern Economic Corridor Development Project, said at the forum that the EEC would help Thailand save Bt400 million a year in logistics costs. That would and improve the logistics cost-to-GDP ratio to 10-12 per cent from 18-19 per cent currently.
“The benefits will accrue to investors and neighbouring countries,” he said.
According to the Commerce Ministry of China, Chinese investors in Thailand in the past five years totalled 525 companies.
In the first seven months of this year, the value of Chinese projects approved by the Board of Investment reached Bt2.15 billion, making it the second-largest investor country after Japan.