Investment remained a Thailand government priority in 2016, mostly through strong promotion by the Board of Investment (BoI). The government plans stronger investment promotion in 2017, plus legal amendments and new regulations to promote foreign investment. Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak increased the 2016 target for foreign investment value from 450 billion THB to 550 billion, forcing the BoI to work harder and hold more overseas roadshows.
The target appears to be within the BoI’s reach. In the first 11 months of 2016, total investment value of applications to the BoI reached 500 billion baht, with an additional 24.5 billion expected in December. Investment approved by the BoI included steel cord manufacturing, petrochemicals, aviation, logistics and land development in industrial estates. Prime Minister’s Office Minister Suvit Maesincee says Thailand is on track to change from a middle-income to a high-income country by promoting new investment in 10 targeted industries under the heading of Thailand 4.0.
The targeted industries comprise: automotive and auto parts, including electric vehicles; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services. All of the targeted industries will focus on added valued to products through advanced technology and innovations, which means Thailand needs investment in those areas. The government has insisted it will continue to support new investment in the 10 targeted industries, such as robotics, logistics and aviation, and the digital sector. Apart from investment promotion in the targeted industries, the government is also promoting small and medium-sized enterprises, focusing on SMEs that use innovation to help cut costs and new startups.
The plan to promote new SMEs and startups is aimed at encouraging young entrepreneurs to start innovative businesses that create added value and use online marketing to help cut labour costs. The government will also continue to push new investment in huge infrastructure projects, especially along the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), its new flagship initiative that is expected to play a major role in supporting the economy. As a result, the plan to develop the EEC and promote special economic zones (SEZs) are the top agenda items for the Industry Ministry in 2017. “All these projects will be major engines to transform Thailand through Industry 4.0, helping raise new investment to reach the target of 600 billion baht next year,” Mr Suvit says. The EEC will link with aviation business firms at U-tapao airport in Chon Buri, which the government wants to set up for industrial expansion. To achieve its investment value goal, the government plans to issue three new laws known as BoI Plus that would grant greater investment privileges to new investors.
New privileges include a tax exemption period expanded from eight to 13 years. New laws are expected to be issued in the coming years to promote investment, including one increasing competitiveness, another developing SEZs and another promoting the EEC. The BoI projects investment value in 2017 of 600 billion THB, beating its target of 550 billion in 2016 and well above 480 billion in 2015. Some 200 billion in investment value is projected to come from petrochemicals and targeted hightech industries that align with Thailand 4.0, says the BoI Bangkok Post