Thai Sum­mit awaits EEC clar­ity

Bangkok Post - - NATIONAL - LAMONPHET APISITNIRA­N

Thai Sum­mit Har­ness Plc, a sub­sidiary of auto parts maker Thai Sum­mit Group, is still await­ing clearer de­tails about the East­ern Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (EEC) be­fore ex­pand­ing in the re­gion, par­tic­u­larly with re­gard to elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVs), says ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent Saroge Va­su­vanich.

He said the com­pany plans an in­crease in ef­fi­ciency of projects and R&D to pre­pare for EV in­vest­ment, adding that the com­pany could have to­tal rev­enue of 110 bil­lion baht within the next five years, up from 80 bil­lion.

“We have seen investors say­ing they are in­ter­ested in the EEC,” Mr Saroge said. “How­ever, we have not yet seen any real in­vest­ment there, par­tic­u­larly in the 10 tar­geted in­dus­tries. That has made us wait for a clearer di­rec­tion be­fore start­ing in­vest­ment in the EEC.”

The 10 tar­geted in­dus­tries are next-generation cars; smart elec­tron­ics; af­flu­ent, med­i­cal and well­ness tourism; agri­cul­ture and biotech­nol­ogy; food; ro­bot­ics for in­dus­try; lo­gis­tics and avi­a­tion; bio­fu­els and bio­chem­i­cal; dig­i­tal; and med­i­cal ser­vices.

The EEC is the gov­ern­ment’s flag­ship pol­icy to cre­ate spe­cial eco­nomic zones span­ning 30,000 rai in the three east­ern prov­inces of Chon Buri, Ray­ong and Cha­cho­engsao and pro­mote in­vest­ment in the 10 tar­geted in­dus­tries.

Thai Sum­mit Group has 40 sub­sidiaries pro­duc­ing parts for ma­jor as­sem­blers, in­clud­ing Toy­ota, Suzuki, Volvo, Du­cati and Honda.

Ma­jor clients in­clude car as­sem­blers (88%) and mo­tor­cy­cle mak­ers (10%), with the rest con­sist­ing of elec­tric ap­pli­ance pro­duc­ers, Mr Saroge said.

He said the com­pany is pro­duc­ing some EV parts for global car­mak­ers such as Tesla Mo­tors and has spent a cer­tain amount of bud­get on EV R&D and cre­ated more hu­man re­sources to be ready for the pro­duc­tion of EVs if needed.

“If the EEC project is clear that the re­gion is ready for in­vest­ment with ap­pro­pri­ate rules, reg­u­la­tions and in­vest­ment priv­i­leges, we will be ready to start in­vest­ing in EV im­me­di­ately by that time,” Mr Saroge said.

He said the com­pany has in­vested a cer­tain amount of bud­get in in­creas­ing the num­ber of au­to­ma­tion sys­tems and in ro­bot­ics to help cut pro­duc­tion costs and in­crease pro­duc­tion ef­fi­ciency.

The com­pany has 1,800 ro­bots as part of au­to­ma­tion sys­tems, up from 900 ro­bots a few years ago, Mr Saroge said.

In 2017, the com­pany has set aside 5 bil­lion baht to in­crease ef­fi­ciency and is ex­pected to spend about the same amount next year.

Mr Saroge said the com­pany is also in talks with a for­eign auto parts maker for a pos­si­ble merger or ac­qui­si­tion that would help in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity.

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