Thailand: EEC gets nod for free trade zone on Airport City land

The cabinet yesterday approved the allocation of 1,032 rai of land in the Eastern Airport City project to create a free-trade zone within the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), in a move to attract investors and businesspeople.

Speaking after the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the free-trade zone at Airport City will not be restricted by large numbers of laws and regulations, with waivers on customs tariffs and other import measures on offer.

The area will also feature other activities and recreation facilities to support 24-hour services, including five-star hotels, shopping malls, duty-free shops, Michelin-starred restaurants, exhibition and convention halls, and entertainment services, Gen Prayut said.

Airport City is located in the 6,500-rai economic zone for aviation, one of the EEC’s seven zones approved by the cabinet in March this year, which were created to strengthen Thailand’s investment competitiveness.

The seven zones comprise: the Eastern Economic Corridor for aviation (EECa); Eastern Economic Corridor for innovation (EECi); Eastern Economic Corridor for digital (EECd); Eastern Economic Corridor for the medical hub (EECmd); Eastern Economic Corridor of genomics (EECg); Eastern Economic Corridor of high-speed rail (EECh); and the Digital and High Technology Centre in Ban Chang, Rayong.

According to deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek, the government has also offered tax perks to 24-hour entertainment providers and alcohol and cigarette distributors at Airport City, allowing them to be exempt from corporate income tax for a maximum of 15 years. The dividends available from their ventures will also be exempt from corporate income tax.

Foreign workers will be allowed to work in certain businesses at Airport City, she said, adding that travellers and tourists will enjoy excise tax exemption on consumer products bought there during its first 10 years.

Other tax perks, such as value-added tax (VAT) waivers on purchases by tourists of up to 20,000 baht per person per year at Airport City in the first 10 years, are pending the government’s consideration.

In a related development, the cabinet yesterday approved a draft action plan on agricultural development in the EEC between 2023 and 2027, covering 101 development projects with spending of 2.84 billion baht.

The plan aims to make Chachoengsao an aquatic animal farming source, Chon Buri an energy crop production base, and Rayong a gathering venue for fruit and fresh seafood.