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Yingluck woos private investors for GMS as official gives briefing on Dawei

The prime minister emphasised yesterday that the Greater Mekong Subregion would be a key strategic area in the near future for Thailand as well as the Asean region, and urged the private sector to help with its development.

In her opening speech at the "Opportunities and Challenges for Thailand in the Evolution and Development of Greater Mekong Subregion" seminar yesterday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said this was the right time to invest in the subregion because it was in a strategic position for the Kingdom and the broader region.

Since Myanmar has opened its doors to the world, it will help promote the subregion, providing it with trade and investment opportunities, she noted.

One of the objectives for the next 10 years would be to develop new economic corridors that help expand and utilise existing logistics system for better and faster flow of products and services, she said. She added that Thailand has played a major role in promoting connectivity, which is a major factor in promoting sustainable development and growth.

Yingluck also called on the private sector to invest in railway systems, airports, water systems, communications networks and deep-sea ports in the subregion.

Somchai Sajjapongse, director-general at the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO), said his office and other agencies had yet to reach any conclusion on how they could help with private-sector investments in the Dawei deep-sea port.

"We have been looking at the big picture on what Myanmar will do to provide support and what it needs Thailand to participate in," he said. "Thailand needs to be definite about which agencies will help develop projects.

Big picture of Dawei

"Previously, top officials from both countries held several discussions and [Thailand's] National Economic and Social Development Board acted as a coordinator for the big picture. The FPO was assigned to take care of the liquidity. We have sought to discuss the matter with Italian-Thai Development but are waiting for the big picture to be certain," Somchai explained.

Italian-Thai Development president Premchai Kanasuta said cooperation between Thailand and Myanmar over the Dawei project would be a crucial factor in pushing for the project to ready and operating in the next three years. The company believes that the project will be unofficially launched by January 2014 because it has received proper support from the Thai government in terms of basic infrastructure for the deep-sea port as well as roads connecting Dawei to Thailand.

The Myanmar government is currently talking to the European Union about privileges it might provide to Myanmar export businesses. Such privileges would help attract foreign investors to Dawei.

Thai investors have been warned against speculating in the local bourse and slowing down the Chinese economy since political risks are rife between the two nations and tension among the rich and the poor could lead to social change, a financial expert said.

"There are emerging signs of speculative trading," Marc Faber, managing director of Marc Faber Ltd, said yesterday in response to the possibility of a bubble in the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Faber said some stock prices had gained by 50 times and that there were signs of an emerging bubble, but it was not in the final stage yet.

Hence it does not mean that the local stock index would not rise above the current SET Index of 1,300 points, adding that it could rise by 10-20 per cent in the next six months or a year. He was speaking on the sidelines of the Thailand Investment Conference.

Faber added that while Thailand's real-estate market was fragmented, prices in some regions had risen far too high. He also warned that the Chinese economy could possibly crash, because some industries have grown beyond capacity.

"China is still an export-oriented economy, and we have to acknowledge that if global exports go down, China's exports would no longer grow and then the economy could face some problems," he said.

He pointed to the possibility of a credit bubble, because nobody knows how much the Chinese government has been borrowing. In addition, there is also the underground borrowing market that some people think could be worth up to a trillion US dollars, he said.


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