Japanese investors keen to join with Chinese on EEC projects, minister says 

Economy August 30, 2018 01:00

By   THE NATION

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JAPAN PLANS to team up with China to invest in Thailand's infrastructure projects, targeting the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), said Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.



The move came after the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding on private-sector economic cooperation in third-world countries between China and Japan, he said after a recent meeting with representatives from Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

“Japan is interested in investing in the EEC and has sought China’s support for the high-speed train project, development of U-Tapao Airport and Laem Chabang Port,” Arkhom said.

Japanese private enterprises, which may join hands with Chinese corporations and Thai partners, have studied the terms of reference (TOR) of the high-speed train project which will connect three airports spanning from Don Mueang International Airport, Suvarnabhumi International Airport and U-Tapao Airport before deciding on the bid.

Arkhom said that Japan has been seeking a new manufacturing base in the EEC, while China is searching for a new site for industrial developments. 

Worawut Mala, acting governor of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), said that two to three private-sector groups are expected to submit tender for the bid of the high-speed train project on November 12. 

“So far, we've seen bigger grouping of private enterprises. About two to three groups are expected. Earlier, we expecetd three to four groups. Personally, it's possible to see a Japan-China joint venture and the involvement of a Thai private enterprise as stated in the TOR,” he said.

On September 24, a meeting will be held to explain the details and a hearing will be opened for the private sector for the second time. The winner will be announced between January and February next year.

Construction of the high-speed train project is scheduled to commence in mid-2019 with service slated to commence in mid-2024.

Jareeporn Jarukornsakul, group chief executive officer of WHA Corportion Plc (WHA), said that Chinese investors have paid more attention lately on investment in Thailand. Yesterday, more than 10 |Chinese investors travelled to EEC for discussions.

WHA is still focused on building up industrial estates by industry due to easier infrastructure design, and not just for Chinese-speaking investors, she said.

“In the past two to three years, Chinese and Japanese investors have made obvious move while the numbers of investors from Germany and other European countries have been rising,” she said.

More potential investors are expected to visit the EEC area in view of the certainty of the infrastructure projects, she said, adding that no impact is expected from Thailand’s general election on investors' decision-making.

Investors are mainly interested the infrastructure projects, investment promotional policy, tax rates, readiness of human resources and wages, she said.

Unlike other nations, Thailand have distinctively been resilient to political changes with no impact on investors. This is the country's strength, aside from favourable investment environment, convenience and the friendliness of Thai people, Jareeporn said.

Even Japanese investors who are usually concerned with the political issues have not been bothered by Thailand's political developments.So far, Thailand has complete investment infrastructure projects, the policy to shift technology following the global trend , good tax measures for investment promotion as well as the EEC policy which will be extended to the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC)" which will connect Thailand with Cambodia and Vietnam, Jareeporn said.

WHA have been pouring Bt43 billion for investment for five years starting from 2016 to 2020. of total, Bt6.6 billion will be spent this year and Bt10 billion next year.

The company will establish four more industrial estates to 14. Now, it has 9 industrial estates in the EEC areas and one in Saraburi province.

In the fourth quarter of this year, one new industrial estate will be opened in Rayong province and three more will be launched in Chonburi, Rayong and Saraburi provinces within one to two years.