DEPUTY Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has raised the goal for investment inflows into the targeted industries in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) to at least Bt600 billion, from an earlier goal of Bt500 billion, within the five years from 2017, said Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general to the EEC Office.
The revised figure would be finalised at a meeting of the EEC management committee tomorrow, before being forwarded to the EEC Development Policy Committee, to be chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on February 1. Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana will chair tomorrow’s meeting.
The targeted industries cover next-generation automotive, smart electronics, affluent, medical and wellness tourism, agriculture and biotechnolgy, food for the future, robotics, aviation and logistics, biofuels and biochemicals, digital and medical hub.
In the meeting tomorrow, the Uttama-led committee will also consider opening up 18 more areas, covering 26,461 rai, as requested by private investors. This year, sites covering an additional 50,000 rai are expected to be opened up in the EEC to serve investment needs.
At the meeting, the committee will propose that the EEC board meeting chaired by the Premier back a plan to further develop tourism over the next four years. The plan would aim to see the number of tourists increase from 30 million to 47 million over the four years, with income rising from Bt250 billion to Bt500 billion. The final plan would be proposed at the February 1 meeting.
“The government expects the EEC to drive up GDP (gross domestic product) by 2 percentage point. Prior to the EEC’s materialisation, the growth has been expected at 3 per cent and after the EEC, it could be 5 per cent,” Kanit said.
Chinese money wooed
After the EEC legislation takes force in February, Chinese investors will play a major role in the hi-tech corridor as inflows from China have been relatively low over the past 30 years, he said, adding that industrial robotics and the aviation sector would be likely beneficiaries.
Uttama yesterday said that bidding for five infrastructure projects in the EEC would take place this year, as expected.
These projects include a high-speed train, U-Tapao airport’s Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Centre, the third phase of Map Ta Phut Port Development, and the third phase of Laem Chabang Port Development.
The Bangkok-Rayong section of the high-speed line will connect with the Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airport. This project and the U-Tapao Airport Development Project are planned to be offered for private-sector bids in July, with services to start in 2023.
The MRO Centre Project is expected to be offered for private sector bids in March and be open for service in 2021, while the third phase of Map Ta Phut Port Development Project is scheduled to complete the bidding process in September, with services starting in 2024.
The third phase of the Laem Chabang Port Development Project will likely be put before the private sector in November; services are expected to start in 2025.
Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn said that the construction of an expanded U-Tapao airport would accommodate a project to develop an “Aviation City of the East”.
In the future, the airport will be able to accommodate 30 million passengers once the expansion is complete, while the third phase of development at both ports will help boost capacity for goods transport from 5-7 million BTUs per day to 12-15 million BTUs.