Japanese investment in Thailand unchanged despite new political leader

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BANGKOK, Dec 18 – The leadership change in Japan, with ex-premier Shinzo Abe returning to power, will not have an impact on Japanese investment in Thailand, according to a high-level Thai industrialist.

Payungsak Chartsuthipol, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTT), said the Japanese private sector has increased their investment in Thailand with some relocating their manufacturing bases to this country in the past few years.

Many countries are interested in using Thailand as production centre to supply to Southeast Asian countries, apparently in preparations for the coming ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, he said.

Describing Thailand as the hub of Southeast Asia, he said western China with a population of 700 million is easily accessible to Thailand while land transport from Thailand to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is also feasible.

The FTT chairman predicted a favourable economic expansion for Thailand next year with an economic growth at not less than 5 per cent despite an ongoing economic slowdown in Europe and the US.

Mr Payungsak said natural disaster, internal political crisis, impact from higher minimum wage and labour shortage are risk factors impeding Thailand’s economic growth.

He said 42 industrial categories in the country have been integrated into 11 clusters to boost their efficiency and competitiveness.

Some of the clusters are rubber and rubber wood, health products, food, fashion and lifestyle products, he said, adding that each cluster has its road map for concrete development in accord with the 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2012-2016).