SINGAPORE-based United Overseas Bank (UOB) is drumming up interest among Chinese investors to seize opportunities in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and expects more and more Chinese companies to set up in the country’s flagship economic zone.
Sam Cheong, managing director and head of UOB’s foreign direct investment advisory unit, said that the bank had co-hosted an investment forum for 20 Chinese delegates who are looking to invest in the EEC.
The bank worked with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) to jointly present the forum.
“Some of them have already invested in Thailand and are looking for businesses expansion,” said Cheng Qingtao, vice president of the Chinese Chamber of International Commerce, who was among the leaders of the trade delegates.
Chinese investors are interested in many industries, including communications and pharmaceutical industries, he said.
“The advantage for investment in Thailand is a linkage between the EEC and the Belt and Road Initiative, for which both countries’ leaders have promised a close cooperation,” said Chen, referring to the Chinese government’s vision for improved infrastructure and trade linkages across Asia.
Chinese investors are especially interested in investment in the Rayong Industrial Park in the EEC, he added. Cheong said that, while US President Donald Trump has recently announced the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, prompting concerns over a trade war, China and Asean could strengthen trade and investment via a free-trade agreement. At the end of 2017, China was Thailand’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade volume |reaching nearly US$ 7 billion, he said.
Among the 10-member Asean bloc, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are attractive investment destinations. He said UOB has an extensive network in Asean, with many branches in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. It also has received a banking licence from the Myanmar government.
The bank has, since 2012, a operated foreign direct investment |advisory, which ha provided support to more than 1,600 firms, including over 500 from China, he said.
Asked about obstacles for |investment in Thailand, Cheng |said that Thailand is not competitive in labour-intensive industries, and Vietnam fares better in this area.
In other positive developments for the EEC, Jack P. Williams, senior vice president of ExxonMobil Corp, wants to invest in petrochemicals production in the EEC, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak quoted him as saying yesterday.
Williams met Somkid and discussed investment opportunities in the Eastern egion. Somkid said after the meeting that ExxonMobil wants the government to provide it a plot of 600-800 rai for its planned site for the plant. If the company could not find a plot suitable for its proposed Bt200 billion petrochemicals investment, the company would look for investment opportunties in other Asean countries, like Singapore, Somkid said at Government House.