thailand 4.0 the eastern economic corridor development plan
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Thailand 4.0: The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Development Plan

09 Oct 2019 | Thailand

In this rapidly changing business world, industries as well as organizations are transforming their processes and operations by embracing industry 4.0. Thailand has recognized the immense power of the Industry 4.0, thus is implementing many initiatives to accommodate this revolution. One of the Thai’s initiatives is the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), a Mega Infrastructure Project aimed to improve the economic development of the country through Industry 4.0.

The Eastern Economic Corridor, also known as the eastern seaboard of Thailand, is a developing region which plays a fundamental role in Thai’s economy. The core focus is placed in three eastern provinces, namely the Chachoengsao, Chonburi, and Rayong provinces. The project is a key component of the ‘’Thailand 4.0’’ economic policy announced in 2016, and the government expects 1.5 trillion Baht ($43 billion) to be invested in the development plan by 2021. It has ten target industries, ranging from electronics and automotive to automation, digital and robotics.

The Eastern Economic Corridor Development plan aims to transform the Thai’s economy into an innovation-driven one. The country’s objective is to move away from labor-intensive industries towards the production of innovative products, and a more service-based economy. The project focuses on four core areas, such as infrastructure, business/industry, tourism and new cities. The development plan includes fifteen major projects, with five of them being of high priority.

One of the five high priority projects is the upgrade of the U-Tapao airport. With an investment worth more than THB 200 billion, the airport will be upgraded into the Eastern Economic Corridor Aerotropolis. The airport will have a ‘’city’’ built around it to connect time-sensitive suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and business people to customers, clients and marketplaces. The first phase of the U-Tapao airport and aviation centre will have the capacity to handle 3 million passengers each year. A business zone, a maintenance repair overhaul (MRO), and an air cargo will also be part of the project.

Improved connectivity is a key component of the EEC project. Also, based on the findings of our latest report, What You Need to Know Before Investing in Thailand, another key project of the Thai’s mega development plan is the expansion of the country’s largest port, namely the Laem Chabang seaport in Chonburi. The government will focus on the creation of sea routes to link EEC provinces to the Sihanoukville port in Cambodia, Myanmar’s Dawei port and Vung Tau port in Vietnam. Moreover, the development plan will focus on the improvement of high-speed highways, rural roads and double track railways.

Albeit the country’s economic stability, business players are concerned about the implications of the new Thailand’s elections, as political reforms could negatively impact businesses in the country. Slowing the development of projects such as the EEC and increasing taxes are just some of the implications the elections could bring until the political situation becomes clearer and more stable.

Get more insights on Thai elections and the economic consequences it could bring for businesses in the country: ‘‘What you need to know before investing in Thailand - A short term analysis on Thai business landscape post-election 2019’’.


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