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US, China vow to hike investment in Thailand
Publication Date : 13-03-2012
Leading American and Chinese investors told Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday they will increase their investment in Thailand, and urged Bangkok to eliminate trade barriers to promote more spending in the country.
The assurance came after the PM's successful visit to Japan last week. Yesterday, she welcomed Jin Liqun, supervising chairman of China Investment Corp, China's sovereign wealth fund, plus a group of American investors.
The US-Asean Business Council met Yingluck to discuss trade and investment opportunities in Thailand after the flood crisis last year.
The council, chaired by Alexander Feldman, reaffirmed that they will continue to invest in Thailand in both manufacturing and service sectors.
They urged the government to accelerate spending of the 350 billion baht earmarked for infrastructure to prevent a flood crisis this year.
They also called on the government to relax some regulations in order to encourage more investment here. For instance, American firms are keen for the government to amend the law that limits majority shareholdings to Thai investors.
They want the government to allow foreign investors to hold more than 49 per cent of shares in such businesses as financial services, saying that Thailand is competitive in this sector.
Automobile manufacturers also called for an excise tax restructure to increase export opportunities for American pickup trucks.
The PM briefed the American businessmen on the government's plan to rehabilitate the country after the flood, detailing the short- and long-term plans to prevent a repeat of the disaster, notably moves to protect industrial and business zones.
The government will allocate 350 billion baht to build infrastructure to prevent another major flood, she said.
With the policy to promote trade, investment, domestic consumption and government spending on mega-projects and infrastructure for flood prevention, the Thai economy was likely to grow by 5.5-6.5 per cent this year, she told them.
The government would amend and adjust many laws and regulations to create a good environment for trade and investment, she said.
The council's business mission to Thailand is due to continue today.
An ICT "mini-mission" to Thailand is also scheduled for tomorrow.
Some 90 American firms joined the US-Asean Council mission. They include Caterpillar, Visa, MasterCard, Philip Morris, AT&T, Ford Motor, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Google, Procter & Gamble and HP.
After visiting Thailand, the council plans to lead a group of American firms to Cambodia next week.
Meanwhile, China's sovereign wealth fund is ready to participate in Thailand's infrastructure investment, as well as put money into the agricultural sector.
Jin said during the meeting with Yingluck that the fund was keen to help propel Thai economic growth and exports. The government website www.thaigov.go.th said Jin expressed confidence that the Thai administration would make progress in flood management. He said China was highly concerned when the disaster occurred.
Yingluck, in return, thanked China for its interest in long-term investment in Thailand, which would help enhance the Kingdom's economic competitiveness. She assured Beijing that Thailand was fully open to foreign investment.