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Chinese Foreign Investment in Thailand Likely to Increase in 2017

Jan 17, 2017 | Emerging Trends Advisors

(BangkokPost): Chinese investment in Thailand is set to grow further next year as both large and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have expressed their interest in using Thailand as a production base in Asean, says the Industry Ministry.

Atchaka Sibunruang, who was industry minister on an investment promotion trip to Zhongguancun Industrial Estate in Beijing from Dec 8-11, said most Chinese investors expressed their interest in continuing their investment in Thailand next year.

Ms Atchaka became the science and technology minister in the cabinet reshuffle last week with Uttama Savanayana replacing her as industry minister.

"In the near future, the Chinese should become the second-largest foreign investors in Thailand, with their investment growing by 20-30% a year over the past few years," said Ms Atchaka. China is the fourth-largest foreign investor in Thailand, while No.1 is Japan.

She said Chinese companies utilise many modern and advanced technologies that match the Thai government's policy to promote industry to the era of Thailand 4.0, which emphasises innovation.

Thailand wants to attract more Chinese investors in the 10 targeted industries it aims to promote, expecting new technology transfers could help improve Thai industries.

Some of the Chinese industries interested in starting investment in Thailand are in biochemicals, robotics, the digital sector and high-tech machinery, said Ms Atchaka.

"The Thai government wants to encourage Thai SMEs to use advanced technology and robotics instead of a human workforce, and the Thai-German Institute has supported this focus. We hope the Chinese play a major role on this topic too," she said.

The 10 targeted industries under Thailand 4.0 are: food and food processing; automotive and auto parts, including electric vehicles (EVs); smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.

Ms Atchaka also observed operations at the Kingpeng International Hi-Tech Corporation, which manufactures greenhouse products and PC sheet multi-span greenhouses. She said Kingpeng could help Thailand develop its production of agricultural products in closed areas such as a greenhouse.

Thailand expects technology transfers to help improve facilities for EVs. Ms Atchaka met executives from BAIC Motor Corporation, China's biggest EV producer, which produces 550,000 EVs per year.

"BAIC said it is interested in expanding its business here as it expects we will develop a new generation of batteries in the next few years, which it believes is the right time to start production," she said.

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