Thailand government urged to boost ties with China

Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand.

Thailand was seeking to deepen its trade relationship with China in a bid to support its ailing economy amid the global pandemic.

In a report by Bangkok Post, Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce president Narongsak Puttapornmongkol was quoted as saying that China, whose economy was already on the road to recovery, may benefit Thailand’s exports and its overall economy.

He emphasized that China’s second and third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) figures were already at 3.2 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively, overturning a 6.8-percent decline registered in the first quarter when most businesses were shut down amid the coronavirus.

“If the Thai government speeds up improving investment regulations to facilitate foreign investment and property purchase, notably for Chinese investors, I am confident it will effectively draw foreign investors, including those from China, to invest in the Eastern Economic Corridor [EEC] and in the property business in Thailand,” he said.

Puttapornmongkol urged the government to speed up the promotion of connectivity between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Thailand’s flagship EEC project, as well as beef up the relationship on trade and investment.

He also called on the government to offer more investment perks to cover more industries and attract more foreign investors, noting that many businesses have yet to enjoy benefits offered by the Board of Investments (BoI).

Meanwhile, the chamber was awaiting a clearer policy on immigration incentives for foreign investors. At present, they are still required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

“Chinese investors remain keen to invest in Thailand. About 1,000 Chinese investors are waiting for permission to enter Thailand to pursue their business in Thailand, mainly in rubber, paper, and plastic, and property businesses,” Puttapornmongkol said.

Among them, he said, are two Chinse companies with plans to invest 10 billion baht in smart cities in Chachoengsao and Chon Buri. They have already purchased 3,000 rai of plots in Chachoengsao and 700 rai in Chon Buri.

Chinse businesses remained the top investors in Thailand, with the BoI approving investment applications for 96 projects worth 35.4 billion baht owned in the first half of the year alone. Some 23 projects of the total investment are in the EEC.

China was followed by Japan with 119 projects worth 34.4 billion baht, while Taiwan was third with 46 projects worth 13.4 billion baht.