Bangkok, 29 August, 2018 – The Thai tourism industry will be a major beneficiary of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as the Royal Thai Government moves rapidly to take advantage of the increased investment and trade opportunities it will create, not just within Thailand but across the ASEAN and ACMECS regions.
Addressing the Thailand-China Business Forum 2018 on 24 August, Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Somkid Jatusripitak said that the kingdom’s strategic location at the heart of ASEAN, its long-standing trade and economic cooperation with China and many other regional countries, as well as its growing multi-modal transport linkages are all great competitive advantages which present enormous opportunities to Chinese investors.
He said the Thai government has developed a number of infrastructure projects and special initiatives; such as, the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi), to serve as an incubator hub for startups and human resource development in targeted industries including digital and software development, high value-added products from natural rubber, electric vehicles and automotive parts, machinery and parts, automation and robotics, telecommunication products and parts, biotechnology, electronics and parts, and the manufacture and repair of aerospace technologies.
Almost 1,000 participants from both China and Thailand attended the Forum, which was held under the theme of “Comprehensive Partnership through the Belt and Road Initiative and the EEC”. It was organised by the Thai Board of Investment alongside the 6th Thailand-China Joint Cooperation Committee Meeting.
Dr. Somkid told the audience that it was the first time that high-level Chinese entrepreneurs and Chinese executives, led by China’s State Councilor Wang Yong, had turned out in such strength to explore investment opportunities in Thailand. More than 400 Chinese entrepreneurs participated, which was well beyond the expectations.
He said that the BRI has become a major driver of economic development in this part of the world, as it connects China with many countries across Asia, as well as with Europe and other parts of the world. In this respect, ASEAN countries have emerged as a significant part of the BRI’s development roadmap.
“Thailand is more than ready to support the economic progress of Asia, as we are already out of the recession period,” Dr. Somkid stressed. “An economic growth of 0.9% a couple of years ago has risen to 4.8% in the first half of this year. Our exports have increased and our international reserves are strong. I am confident that China and Thailand can work together to create a strong trade and investment network. Although Thailand is a relatively small country, we are strongly committed to supporting the fast development of Asia.”
In turn, Mr. Kobsak Pootrakul, Minister Attached to the Office of the Prime Minister, told the delegates that the Forum provided a good opportunity for Chinese entrepreneurs to learn more about Thailand’s key economic policies on industrial, trade and investment development and also get an update on infrastructure projects; such as, the high-speed train links, a dual-track train system and new digital infrastructure like a submarine cable linking Thailand with neighbouring countries.
Ms. Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary General of the BOI, said that the BOI has established three offices in China to facilitate Chinese investors. In 2016-17 and the first half of 2018, the total value of investment applications from China has already exceeded 56 billion Baht. The BOI has also held several roadshows in China.
Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn said that all this economic activity would give a further boost to Chinese visitor arrivals to Thailand, especially in high-spending sectors; such as, MICE and business travel.
Chinese visitor arrivals to Thailand are already at record-breaking levels. In the first half of 2018, Chinese visitors totalled six million and will cross the 10 million mark.
He said the Thai government is moving rapidly to ensure the best possible management facilities for Chinese visitors including better quality guides, upgraded language capabilities and improved safety and security. TAT is also cooperating with the popular Chinese social media channel Wechat to create an official account to facilitate inquiries by Chinese people and enhance their security during their visit.
Mr. Yuthasak said, “One of our main goals is to better distribute Chinese visitors around the country. This will be possible due to the enhanced airline connectivity directly to U-tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport in the Eastern Seaboard, as well as the upcoming high-speed rail services linking U-tapao to Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi Airports in Bangkok.”
*Photo credit: BOI Thailand