THE Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has reassured Thailand of its commitment to supporting a Bt224-billion high-speed railway project that will connect the country’s three main airports.
The pledge came after JBIC governor Tadashi Maeda had discussions with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on progress with the project at Government House yesterday.
Somkid said the JBIC had insisted on following through with its financial backing for the project against the backdrop of Chinese-Japanese cooperation in support of massive investment in countries in the region, including with the showcase Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
The high-speed railway – the biggest infrastructure works for the EEC - will connect the Don Mueang and Suvarnbhumi international airports with the U-Tapao facility in Rayong province.
After the talks yesterday, the JBIC will engage in further discussions on the project.
A committee has begun negotiations with a private consortium – the Charoen Pokphand Group and its partners, which won the bid for this project – and that process is due to be finalised on March 19.
The JBIC is said to be ready to extend its support to a smart city project in Chachoengsao province and to Thai small and medium-sized enterprises for improved production capabilities. More discussions with government agencies will be held.
Weerachon Sukhondhapatipak, deputy spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office, said that during the discussions, JBIC had told of its progress in pushing through projects under the EEC. Businesses in Japan and China are said to be highly interested in investing in the high-speed railway.
With Thailand acting as chair of Asean this year, Japan is also ready to support Asean development and establish subregional cooperation, such as with the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and with the Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) subregion.
Prayut said the Thai government also supports the high-speed rail project and that the EEC will become a centre of manufacturing, adding that Japan is the biggest foreign investor in the zone.
“Earlier, Japan has collaborated well in projects, such as for the establishment of education institutes in Thailand and education institutes and research centres are expected to set up branches in Thailand and the EEC,” he said.