The Thai government has approved mega infrastructure development projects worth over 740 billion baht ($22.6 billion) next year in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), the enhancement of the former Eastern Seaboard.
The approved budget will go towards building the roads connecting Laem Chabang port and U-tapao airport, a Map Ta Phut port’s capacity expansion and highway development in the EEC zone, which covers Chonburi, Rayong and Chachoengsao provinces.
Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, said that it expected the corridor would attract the private investment of at least 100 billion baht ($3 billion) per year.
The governments in the past had developed the Eastern Seaboard since more than thirty years ago with intention to attract auto-makers to set up production plants and make it become the “Detroit of the East”. However, the current government wants to make it the manufacturing paradise of Asia, focussing on technology and innovation-based industries.
Sangsubhan said the investment in the three EEC provinces in the first nine months of 2017 reached 104.16 billion baht and 67.8 billion baht of that was the investment in the 10 targeted industries: next-generation cars, smart electronics, affluent medical and wellness tourism, agriculture and biotechnology, food, robotics for industry, logistics and aviation, biofuels and biochemical, digital and medical services.
“Once the National Legislative Assembly passes the Eastern Special Economic Zone Act, more investment from international companies including BMW, Nissan, Minor Internationala and Air Asia will flow into EEC,” said he, adding that the Act is expected to be effective in January 2018.
On the same day, Pailin Chuchottaworn, chairman of Vidyasimimedhi Institute of Science and Technology and a former CEO of PTT Pcl, said PTT Pcl, the Thai energy conglomerate, also plans to invest 10 billion baht ($300 million) in the first phase of its innovation centre for bio-based petrochemical products in EEC.
Most of the investment will be used to develop the infrastructure, he added.