ENTHUSIASM for investment in Thailand from Britain and France is high after the leaders of the two countries that hosted a visit by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed their interest in the government’s Thailand 4.0 policy and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said.
Somkid said Prayut’s British and French hosts acknowledged that the Thai economy has undergone a recovery over the past four years. They see that it has become the main country in the Asean region and within the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) grouping, he said, referring to the political, economic, and cultural organisation that connects Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.
Prayut visited the UK and France from June 21-25.
Both countries need to deepen economic connection with countries in the region, Thai officials said. For Britain, this is especially so with the country’s impending withdrawal from the European Union (EU) and is in line with its outward-looking Global Britain Policy.
Prayut invited British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron to visit as Thailand's guests when the country hosts the Asean leaders summit next year. Macron has accepted the invitation.
During the European visit, Prayut participated in a seminar on "Transforming Thailand: Thailand-France Partnership" held by the Mouvement des entreprises de France (MEDEF) - the largest employer federation in France – and Thailand's Board of Investment, according to Werachon Sukondhapatipak, Thai government deputy spokesman.
Prayut also met executives from four leading French business groups: Transdev Group; Michelin Group; Vinci Group; and Suez Group. These executives gave a positive response to participation in Thailand's mega-infrastructure projects, such as those in the EEC, Werachon said.
The signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for joint investment in a maintenance, repair and overhaul centre at U-Tapao airport, in Rayong, was aimed at cementing Thailand’s status as a regional aviation hub.
With the MoU secured, Thai Airways International Plc's board of directors will meet to determine a date marking the start of joint investment in the showpiece project with Airbus. The European aircraft maker will train workers and prepare equipment for the complex on expectations for the centre to completed in 2022.
“Thailand will become the perfect connection between the UK and France, which need to connect with Asean and ACMECS and focus on a strategic partnership with Thailand. The leaders of both countries have been impressed with the Thailand 4.0 policy," Somkid said.
The policy for promoting the country’s technological advancement is in with France's direction to boost innovation and technology and several French companies have expressed interest in Thailand's plans for energy, infrastructure, smart cities and smart utilities, he said.
Somkid pointed out that the prime minister’s visit to the European countries reflected their acceptance of Thailand’s situation, which he noted had changed over the past four years of the junta’s rule. The leaders of Britain and France are ready to support the country while making no pressure on the government over the timing of the general election, said Somkid, citing the plan for the poll early next year.