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Thailand Working to Propel Hi-tech Economy

The government remains committed to the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and believes investment value in the corridor will reach at least THB300 billion this year as expected.

According to the Secretary-General to the EEC Office, private investment is increasing this year, driven by global economic recovery and rising global trade. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected the investments which were lower last year as investors were hesitant. Investors are now expected to ramp up investments this year, he said.

Last year, actual investment in the EEC totalled only THB96 billion, making up 46% of total investment applications filed through the Board of Investment (BoI). The EEC is part of the government’s strategy to move Thailand towards a high-tech economy.

The area spans a combined 30,000 rai plot of land in the provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao to accommodate investments in targeted industries, focusing largely on advanced technology.

The EEC will host 12 target S-curve industries: cars, smart electronics, medical and wellness tourism, agriculture and biotechnology, food, robotics for industry, logistics and aviation, biofuels and biochemicals, digital, medical services, defence, and education development.

The government is offering several privileges for investments in the EEC, including standard tax holidays for five to 10 years depending on investment categories, corporate income tax exemption for an additional two years, and a 50% corporate tax reduction for three years for investment projects related to human resource development.

The EEC attracted investment applications for 117 projects in the first quarter with a combined value of 64.4 billion baht, 39% higher than the total value of the 117 projects filed in the same period of 2020.

5G propelling investment

A large number of investments relating to 5G technology are scheduled for 2021 and include both infrastructure projects and production technology upgrades by manufacturers in the EEC.

Mobile phone operators and related industries are in the process of investing in the infrastructure required for 5G technology in EEC while investments in a smart city in Ban Chang in Rayong is about to be completed as well. Meanwhile, investments in infrastructure projects for Pattaya Smart City are scheduled to begin this year.

Last year, Pattaya announced a five-year roadmap for its transformation into a “smart city” to become a hub of economic, investment and tourism activity. The strategy is designed to create new opportunities for Pattaya residents, improve its environment, and serve its multicultural community.

The city’s authorities conducted public hearings on the scheme, which is expected to boost the economy in post-Covid-19, to improve digital information and geoinformatics of the plan between 2021 and 2025.

The digital transformation will help improve government services, reduce inequality in education, and increase investment opportunities. The digital system will be applied to the transportation, tourism, and medical industry, as well as town planning.

At both Ban Chang and Pattaya smart cities, big data will be used to improve people’s quality of life, including a 3D system to boost people’s incomes, a closed-circuit TV system to ensure public security, and various other innovations to facilitate and enhance local life.

The government will also support factories in EEC to upgrade manufacturing via 5G technology.

EV development

The EEC Office is also focusing on electrical vehicle (EV) manufacturing as EV projects in EEC are scheduled to see investments this year and in 2022. The government will support infrastructure to boost EVs and three cores of EV development: charging stations, significant parts of motor and battery and software. The manufacturing of EVs in Thailand can happen faster than the government’s plan, which aims for domestic production of EVs to account for 30% of car manufacturing by 2030.

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