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Thailand approves US$1.3b in investment for 17 projects
[BANGKOK] Thailand's investment agency said on Friday that it has approved applications for 17 projects worth 43.92 billion baht, many involving auto parts and renewable energy.
Thailand's military-led government has struggled to revive Southeast Asia's second-largest economy after seizing power in a coup last May, with exports and domestic demand still sluggish.
The junta has stepped up infrastructure plans and accelerated approvals for private investment in its effort to rekindle the economy.
The latest approvals bring the total value of projects approved in the first half of the year to 412.69 billion baht from 1,254 projects, said Hirunya Suchinai, secretary-general of the Thai Board of Investment (BOI).
"Even if the projects are smaller scale, they can help stimulate the economy and create jobs faster," she said.
The board expects 1,700 projects to be approved this year, up 2.29 percent from last year. Total approved applications for the year are expected to reach 1.4 trillion baht, versus 729.4 billion baht last year.
The latest batch of approvals includes an 8.5 billion baht investment by Energy Absolute PCL to support its solar energy business in the north and a 2.92 billion baht investment by Hemaraj Land and Development PCL to upgrade its industrial zone in eastern Thailand, Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula said in statement after a meeting chaired by junta leader Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha.
The BOI has kept the value of overall investment applications at 350 billion baht this year, following policy changes in December.
The agency replaced the previous policy by gearing its incentives towards more value-added sectors and providing special incentives to those investing in the government's special economic zones and designated provinces.
Among the incentives are 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, electronics design, aircraft manufacturing and production of aircraft parts.