The Thai government has vowed to rev up construction of planned development projects under the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which it hopes will form a new engine to drive economic growth.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who chaired yesterday’s meeting of the Committee for Special Development Policy in Special Economic Zones, said the EEC’s development must take into account innovation, information technology, health care and quality of life for local communities.
According to Porametee Vimolsiri, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, which handles the EEC development plan, the EEC will entail 173 projects (excluding additional ones assigned by the premier) with total investment of 700 billion baht(US$19bl).
Of the amount, the government will allocate 150 billion baht. The remainder will come from joint ventures between the state or state enterprises and the private sector.
“During 2017-18, the government is committed to speeding up construction of the planned development projects and disbursement of as many as possible, while closely supervising the privileges given to investors and convincing them to speed up real investment,” Mr Porametee said.
He said the government also plans to beef up public relations activities to lure as much investment as possible to the EEC after roadshows were held in France, Germany and China as well as at home to draw interest to the ambitious development scheme.
He said the committee yesterday approved 48 projects for 2017 with a combined investment of 6.99 billion (US$200ml) baht for fast-track development, mostly infrastructure and logistics development.
The cabinet last month approved the draft law outlining the development of the EEC, which will run through Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao.
The corridor has been designated for development as a high-tech industry cluster, with an eye towards becoming Asean’s leading economic zone for industrial, infrastructure and urban development.
The project is meant to accommodate the 10 targeted industries being promoted as clusters by the government.
Those industries are next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.
The corridor will also rely on developments in transport infrastructure, including air, land, rail and water links.
The EEC is also set to become an Asean water transport hub, linking the Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar with Sihanoukville in Cambodia and Vung Tau port in Vietnam.
Investors in EEC will receive privileges including land leases for 50 years and extensions of 49 years, visa-free grants for the import of skilled labour or executives, special tax perks and financial incentives.
The Industry Ministry said earlier that the EEC would attract up to 550 billion baht in investment over the next five years.
Thai Gov’t to speed up construction projects under Eastern Economic Corridor