Thailand: Tycoon urges EEC investment

Businesses and investors from China should not miss the opportunity to invest in the Eastern Economic Corridor, which is set to become the country’s high-tech industry hub, said the chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group, Dhanin Chearavanont.

He was referring to the government’s flagship project that spans Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong, which the government hopes will become the nation’s hub for advanced manufacturing.

Mr Dhanin made the call during a speech at the 16th World Chinese Entrepreneur Convention, which was organised by the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce — of which he is an honorary chairman — at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center on Sunday.

The event, which will wrap up later on Monday, was attended by over 3,000 entrepreneurs of Chinese descent from over 50 countries.

Mr Dhanin said that in light of the intensifying trade war between China and the United States, all countries must turn their attention towards improving their technology and services sectors.

“Modern technology can enhance productivity and improve product quality while lowering capital costs at the same time,” he said.

He praised the business acumen of Chinese investors, whom he said were able to spot opportunities to expand their businesses despite the uncertainties brought on by rapidly changing geopolitical circumstances.

The Japanese had poured money into the country to build Thailand’s capacity as a manufacturing hub, he said.

China, as the world’s second largest source of foreign direct investment, he added, can play a role in Thailand’s future direction.

The EEC, he said, was initiated by the government in an effort to improve Thailand’s industrial ecosystem by attracting more advanced technology and innovation to the region.

That said, while the EEC was envisioned as a high-tech hub, conventional manufacturing will continue to play an important role, given the nature of the region’s demands.

“Investment on technology and innovation to upgrade the manufacturing sector is important for the future.

“It doesn’t mean that the technology will replace human labour; instead, it will help enhance their capacity,” he said.

“As such, I would like to use this opportunity to invite Chinese entrepreneurs to travel to Thailand to invest in the EEC project.”

Mr Dhanin also said he personally sees nuclear power as a viable option for electricity generation in Thailand.

He said many countries, including China, are not opposed to nuclear energy, which has a low investment cost.

He added that hydro-electric plants and wind turbines will be important sources of clean energy in future.

Gao Yun Long, from the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, said trade between Thailand and China was valued at UScopy30 billion (about 4.5 trillion baht) last year.

He said China promotes mutual trade and investment, especially in the digital industry and green economy sector, before adding the government is keen to play a bigger role in further developing Thailand’s economy.

Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, chairman of Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said the event was the first to be held in Bangkok after 28 years. It would help orient Chinese entrepreneurs towards Thai business concepts.

Deputy Prime Minister Jurin Lak- sanawisit, who represented the prime minister to chair the opening ceremony, said the WCEC is an important stage for both Chinese and overseas entrepreneurs to exchange information and opportunities in trade and investment, as well as strengthen ties between business networks.

The forum plays an important role in driving development, in addition to acting as a bridge connecting China and other countries, he said.

China is a powerful country with a huge export and import market which play an important role in driving the global economy, he said.

Over the past four years, the government has promoted investments in Thailand’s economy by entering into agreements with China, Japan, South Korea and India, he said.