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VIRUS OUTBREAK

Thai investment seen picking up early next year

Bangkok

INVESTMENT in Thailand's industrial east may recover early next year after falling this year as foreign investors have been put off by novel coronavirus restrictions, a senior official said on Thursday.

Foreign investors are interested in Thailand and would return to the industrial eastern seaboard, especially when progress is made in the fight against the coronavirus, Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), told reporters. "Investment should increase after a vaccine has been found, which is likely to be early next year," said Mr Kanit, who is also a member of the central bank's monetary policy committee.

Thailand has banned incoming international flights until the end of June to try to limit the spread of the virus.

The slower investment will affect the economy, which is expected to shrink by 5 per cent this year, Mr Kanit said. However, there has been a little impact on first-half investment as most of it was in the pipeline when the epidemic broke out, while Thai firms are still investing and public infrastructure projects are on track, Mr Kanit said.

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Official investment data would be released later, he said.

The government will sign a 290 billion baht (S$12.87 billion) agreement with BBS Joint Venture on June 19 for the development of the airport and an "aviation city" around the joint-civil military U-Tapao Airport, 150 kilometres south-east of Bangkok, he said.

The group, selected in February, comprises Bangkok Airways , train operator BTS Group and Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction.

It has chosen Japan's Narita International Airport Corp as U-Tapao's operator. REUTERS

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