Interview: Kanit Sangsubhan

What industries are being targeted for development in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC)?

KANIT SANGSUBHAN: There are 10 main industries being promoted as the key driving forces of sustainable economic growth. This entails upgrading five existing industries: automotive; smart electronics; advanced agriculture and biotechnology; food processing; and tourism. Five new industries will also be promoted, including robotics and mechatronics for both industrial and daily life; the integrated aviation industry, comprising aviation repair, spare parts and training; medical hubs and integrated wellness centres; the bio-economy, particularly biochemicals and biofuels; and advanced petrochemical industries. Together, these 10 industries form the core of the Thailand 4.0 initiative intended to promote value-added and high-tech industries.

The existing eastern seaboard industrial area is home to many of Thailand’s strongest industries – including automotive, electronics and textiles – and has been highly successful in attracting increased foreign direct investment. Both the EEC’s location and targeted industries build from that strong industrial foundation. The development of the EEC will be entered into the constitutionally mandated 20-year national strategy and governed by the EEC Act, which will be the first of its kind in Thailand’s history, and this will ensure the continuity of both public and private investment, totalling more than $45bn.

Which infrastructure upgrades are being prioritised to enhance connectivity with the EEC?

KANIT: The EEC builds off the existing infrastructure available on the eastern seaboard. A complete development plan is under way for a fully integrated transportation and logistics network. Sea transport development plans include Laem Chabang Port, now Thailand’s main cargo port for containers and motor vehicles, to expand its capacity to accommodate freight containers providing up to 18m twenty-foot equivalent units and 3m cars annually. Upon its completion, it will rank among the world’s top-15 cargo ports and will serve as the gateway to Indochina. The third phase of the Map Ta Phut Industrial Port is designed for the transport of liquid freight and natural gas, crucial raw materials for energy production as well as petrochemicals. The Sattahip Commercial Port will also be upgraded and modernised in order to become an international cruise and ferry port. Importantly, the modernisation of U-Tapao International Airport is also under way. This involves the expansion of existing runways, and the construction of new passenger and cargo terminals in order to become an advanced aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul hub. Highspeed and dual-track rail and motorway expansions will provide interconnectivity between industrial sites and deepsea ports, as well as airports.

What tax and non-tax incentives will attract investors to set up their businesses in the EEC?

KANIT: Thailand will be establishing free trade zones around seaports and airports, all of which are eligible for generous tax and financial incentives that should attract international businesses. The EEC Act, combined with ongoing legislation introduced by the Board of Investment, will offer generous incentive packages, relaxed regulations and a onestop service centre, alongside ongoing reforms that will ensure the ease of conducting business.

Specific incentives include: a 0% corporate income tax for a maximum of 15 years; a 15% personal income tax for international headquarters and international trading centres; five-year work permit visas for foreign staff; and a 50-year landlease programme. Moreover, investment projects deemed strategically important will receive additional support from the Thailand Competitiveness Fund, a fund designed to increase Thailand’s competitiveness in industries targeted for development.