Address issue of lack of manpower in technical textiles sector: Smriti Irani
Thailand is changing fast and yet the pace seems measured for a nation and government that is anxious to board a higher trajectory of growth, development and transformation. What one does get on entering Bangkok on a balmy summer evening, is a sense of purpose and ambition that has driven Thailand from a predominantly agriculture based economy to an engine of manufacturing and industrial growth powering a USD 397.6 billion strong economy and ASEAN's second largest powerhouse. Ranked second for its ease of doing business among East Asia's emerging economies, Thailand occupies prime space on the radar of those looking for a “strategic location gateway to ASEAN”.
What also becomes apparent is the economic vision and high aspirational levels of a nation that wants to overcome the “Middle Income Trap” as we stroll through Sukhumvit, a busy business centre in Bangkok lined with plush hotels and showrooms housing global brands across apparels, jewellery, automobiles, perfumes and other lifestyle products. Take a sky train to hop into another part of the city and the sight is familiar if not more dazzling with the streets lined with gigantic malls and glitzy digital displays showcasing Thailand's transformation and offering infinite retail therapy for locals, tourists and foreign nationals. The aroma of cooked shrimps and other seafood wafting across from street side food stalls and restaurant at Tha Maharaj on the river front remind you of Thailand's gastronomic strengths and its status as one of the top 10 food exporters in the world.
What really gives food for thought and leaves a lasting impression is the sheer enterprise, planning and spends that have gone into the development of wide, clean roads, highways and mammoth infrastructure projects that dot the city and the vibrantly green country landscape as we head to Rayong Province. This is home to opulent industrial estates like the Hemraj industrial estate, Map Ta Phut industrial estate and Asia industrial estate. Thailand boasts of more than 70 industrial estates spread across all regions and covering more than 256 million square meters of space, replete with ready built factories, logistics warehouses, utilities, power, property solutions for global industrial projects catering to a wide range of manufacturing processes.
The Eastern Seaboard Industrial Region stands out with two international deep-sea ports and double-track line connecting to other zones. We are treated to a glimpse of the magnificent Laem Chabang deep sea port as we drive around the periphery of this port set to be the multimodal transport and logistics hub of ASEAN and are reminded of Thailand's indisputable reputation as a tourism hub as we check into the picturesque Pattaya, a must in the itinerary of the swish set or a travel lover. These showpieces, we are told, are only a microcosm of what is in the offing in Thailand as it charts an aggressive three-pronged strategy to drive investments – the operative word -- in the country cutting across sectors. Thailand, as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stated at the “Opportunity Thailand 2017” -- an international seminar organised by BOI and chaired by the Prime Minister -- has recognised the significant contribution of foreign investment in driving the country's economic growth. According to the latest Thailand Investment Review (February 2017) unveiled by the BOI, the country has received a total investment of USD 16,545.27 million in 1,546 projects in the period January-December 2016 across diversified sectors. All thanks to a dedicated mission to improve the ease of doing business ranking, efforts to enact simpler regulations and make necessary amendments in existing ones like the revised Investment Promotion Act.
The Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) is playing a crucial role in ensuring that the strategies to attract foreign investments are backed by a “One Start, One Stop”, investment centre offering comprehensive services at one location and a package deal of 100 per cent foreign ownership, no local content requirements, no export requirements, no restriction on foreign currency, corporate income tax exemption for up to 13 years, 50 per cent reduction of corporate income tax for up to 5 years, land ownership rights and work permit