BOI applications up, BOI privileges extended for the EEC
The Board of Investment announced last week that applications for BOI investment promotion privileges rose 8 percent in the first nine months of 2017 from a year earlier, and the state investment promotion agency expects to meet its target of 600 billion baht this year. Thai and foreign investors submitted investment applications worth a combined 376.6 billion baht (US$11.51 billion) during the period from January to September with Japan remaining the biggest investor. So far the BOI has reached 63 percent of its target which the director believes is achievable. Of the investment pledges in the first nine months, 104 billion baht were projects in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) development area. The BOI approved a two year extension of privileges in the EEC, existing privileges were due to expire at the end of this year. The board approved an extension of the corporate income tax exemption from the existing eight years to 10 years and a 50% cut on corporate income tax for an additional five years after the tax holiday. The new privileges will be offered in three special economic zones in the EEC; U-Tapao International Airport, the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) and Digital Park Thailand (EECD).
The government is also scheduling big infrastructure expansion plans for the EEC in 2018 including improvements to roads linking Laem Chabang port and U-Tapao airport, a Map Ta Phut port expansion, development of highways in the three EEC provinces, the third phase of Laem Chabang port, an aircraft repair and maintenance hub at U-Tapao and the Bangkok-Rayong high-speed rail network. The 158-billion-baht Bangkok-Rayong high-speed rail network is required to settle the terms of reference (ToR) and the public-private partnership (PPP) process by January, the project will be put out for bids in July and operations are scheduled to begin in 2023 linking U-Tapao, Suvarnabhumi, and Don Mueang International Airports.
International tourist arrivals jumped nearly 21 percent in October compared to the same period last year. Foreign arrivals reached 2.72 million in October, of which the majority were Chinese, Malaysians then Laotians. Chinese were the biggest spenders followed by the Russians and then the Malaysians. In 2016 Thailand hit a record 32.6 million tourist arrivals, in the first ten months of the year tourist arrivals grew 6.7 percent year on year to reach 28.8 million. East Asian had the highest numbers of arrivals followed by Europe, South Asia, and the Americas. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports is expecting 33-34 million tourist arrivals this year. Tourism accounts for 12 percent of the GDP.
Phuket International Airport should see relief in airport congestion this week as the new renovated wing in the airport’s old terminal is scheduled to re-open on Tuesday. The renovated area will open up 23,000 sqm and will service both departing and arriving domestic passengers. Phuket International Airport expects daily aircraft movements to jump to 300 each day with 50,000 passengers moving through the airport during the high season, which normally runs through to the end of March. The entire old terminal is scheduled to be opened by June 2018 and should boost the airport’s capacity to 12.5 million each year, up from the previous 6.5 million. The new international terminal opened in September last year.