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Thailand approves US$1 bln in investment projects

[BANGKOK] Thailand's investment agency said on Monday it had approved applications for 15 projects worth 37.5 billion baht (S$1.48 billion), mainly in aviation, farm goods and renewable energy.

Thailand's military seized power in a coup last May to end months of political unrest but has struggled to kick-start Southeast Asia's second-largest economy as exports and domestic demand remain sluggish. Growth last year was just 0.9 per cent.

The junta has accelerated approvals for investment projects and offered various incentives to spur private investment to help support the economy.

Nine of the projects worth 12.5 billion baht are in agricultural goods, with five projects worth 6.4 billion baht from Charoen Pokphand Foods Pcl, Thailand's largest meat and feed producer, the Board of Investment (BOI) said in a statement.

Thai Lion Mentari Co Ltd, which operates Thai Lion Air, plans to lease planes worth 13.4 billion baht.

Siam Cable Holding Co will spend 6.5 billion baht on producing electricity with wind energy.

In January-September, 1,769 projects worth 665 billion baht were approved, Hirunya Suchinai, BOI secretary-general, told a news conference.

Last year, the agency replaced previous policies by gearing its incentives to more value-added sectors.

Among them will be tax exemption of up to eight years, and exemption of import duty on machinery or raw materials for industries that focus on areas such as research and development and innovation.