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Thailand expects higher investment pledges next year

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Thailand expects to receive investment proposals totalling 600 billion baht (S$24 billion) next year, or 9 per cent more than 2016's anticipated total, the country's investment agency said on Tuesday.

[BANGKOK] Thailand expects to receive investment proposals totalling 600 billion baht (S$24 billion) next year, or 9 per cent more than 2016's anticipated total, the country's investment agency said on Tuesday.

Hirunya Suchinai, secretary-general of the Board of Investment (BOI), told Reuters that in the first 11 months of this year, foreign and domestic firms pledged to invest about 500 billion baht, compared with 195.6 billion baht in the year-earlier period.

She said that much of this year's investment was in targeted sectors such as automobiles, agriculture and digital businesses.

Next year, investment proposals in the auto sector could take the lead as Thailand is expected to launch an electric-vehicle policy, which may involve tax incentives to boost the industry. "If the policy is announced next year, automakers will want to invest," Ms Hirunya said.

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Thailand is a regional and export base for global automakers and electronic firms but its competitiveness is waning, at a time when the economy is grappling with soft global demand abroad and high household debt at home.

Japan should remain Thailand's biggest investor next year to maintain its car production base in Thailand, Ms Hirunya said.

Faced with stubbornly weak exports and domestic demand, Thailand's military government has struggled to revive Southeast Asia's second-largest economy since seizing power in May 2014 to end prolonged political turmoil.

It has focused on driving investment and accelerating the approval process for private investment to lift activity. Last year, it introduced an investment policy targeting more value-added industry and services.

The country's mourning for King Bhumibol Adulyadej who died on Oct 13, has not affected investment, Ms Hirunya said. "Entertainment may have been a little affected but production and investment haven't. It's business as usual," she said.

REUTERS

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