Thailand: Tax perks for food cluster
The government is confident that attractive tax incentives will drive spending in research and development(R&D) by private companies in Food Innopolis and create hundreds of jobs.
Kitipong Promwong, the secretary-general at the National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office, forecast 1.5 billion baht will be invested by private companies in Food Innopolis this year, creating 700-800 jobs. As of March 16, 32 companies, including newcomers such as Japan’s Otsuka, Malee Sampran Plc, CP Foodlab, Mitr Phol Innovation & Research Centre and Thanakorn Vegetable Oil Products, have invested 900 million baht in the food cluster and created 450 jobs.
Billed as an innovation and development centre aimed at increasing the value of the country’s abundant crops, Food Innopolis was established last year on a 200 rai plot at the Thailand Science Park in Khlong Luang district in Pathum Thani, north of Bangkok.
The Science and Technology Ministry is spending 1 billion baht in fiscal 2017 to build infrastructure supporting the centre. The infrastructure includes central lab, a one-stop service centre and other facilities to help private companies investing there. The government also signed a memorandum of understanding with seven foreign institutes, including France’s Vitagora, the Netherlands’ Food Valley NL, Cornell University, Massey University, Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, the UK’s Newton Fund and Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, to help provide technical support.
Mr Kitipong said the government also plans to expand the Food Innopolis concept to universities or companies which have their own R&D centres. Kasetsart University has agreed to allocate one of its existing buildings as an R&D centre for food.
Mr Kitipong said the R&D centre for food is expected to expand soon to Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Prince of Songkla University.
Investors in general businesses are eligible to claim deductions for R&D expenses of 300% from 200% if they invest more in technological or human resource development.
Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said on Friday that tax incentives could be offered to groups of companies for R&D expenses. The proposal will go before the cabinet for approval in the coming weeks. Companies that group together will be able to claim deductions for R&D expenses of 200-300%, depending on the particular case.
The tax breaks will be available to companies that pool together to conduct R&D in five business areas — food, agriculture and biotechnology; public health, health care and biomedical technology; robotics and smart devices; digital, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence; and creative economy, culture and lifestyle.