The Thai government has put effort to expand border trade and investment and is accelerating preparations in many areas for the realization of the ASEAN Community.
In his keynote speech at the Nikkei Bangkok Forum on 6 July 2015 at the Conrad Hotel in Bangkok, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha talked about the Government’s policy in national development for Thailand to become a business hub. The forum was attended by 400 Japanese investors.
He told the forum that after having assumed office, his administration announced a policy on special economic zones to connect with neighboring countries. Thailand is situated in the center of the ASEAN region and shares 5,000-kilometer-long borders with Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. It has 90 border crossing points in 25 border provinces. Thailand’s border trade is valued at 900 billion baht each year.
The Prime Minister stated that the Government is proceeding with its plan to establish special economic zones in the provinces adjacent to neighboring countries. Along the Thai-Myanmar border, special economic zones will be set up in Tak and Kanchanburi. Along the Thai-Lao border, they will be established in Chiang Rai, Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom, and Mukdahan.
As for special economic zones along the Thai-Cambodian border, they will be set up in Sa Kaeo and Trat. The special economic zones along the Thai-Malaysian border will be established in Songkhla and Narathiwat.
He pointed out that the Government is planning various infrastructure projects to accommodate investment in these special economic zones. It puts priority on Mae Sot district in Tak and Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaeo. A project will be launched for the construction of the second bridge across the Moei River, linking Mae Sot with Myawaddy. The project will create a transport network to promote border trade and facilitate goods transportation.
Emphasis is also placed on the development of broadband internet and international internet gateway networks, which will be a strong foundation for electronic transaction and cyber security. Thailand is promoting ICT cooperation with ASEAN member countries in order to develop the ASEAN region as one of ICT hubs in the world.
The Prime Minister said that Thailand welcomes investment in research and development. The Government aims to increase R&D investment to 1 percent of GDP. Toward this aim, the private sector will be urged to invest more in this field, which will contribute to Thailand’s technological and innovation development.
In addition, the Thai government is conducting education reform to help enhance the country’s competitiveness and produce personnel in response to the labor market. The Prime Minister also encouraged Japanese firms to support training for Thai workforce.