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NEWS UPDATES 13 July 2010

Japan Bank emphasises green projects in Thailand

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The Japan Bank for International Cooperation plans to start jointly investing in environmentally friendly programmes, including mass transit projects in Thailand, in the second half, according to the Bangkok Post.

Yuhei Ohmi, the JBIC's chief representative for Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Burma, said the Green (Global action for Reconciling Economic growth and Environmental preservation) initiative would mark the first move for the bank to expand its role from extending loans to investing in projects outside Japan.

These environmentally friendly projects, including renewable energy and infrastructure programmes to reduce energy consumption in developing countries, could draw the JBIC's participation even if there is no Japanese involvement in them, he said. "So far, the JBIC has focused on lending the money to projects. Now we are going to consider another option of investing in projects that are good to the environment, which is the area where the bank wants to play a larger supporting role," said Mr Ohmi.

The size of the fund has yet to be finalised, but he said it would be significant to support strong demand for investment from the sector.

Infrastructure projects in Thailand and Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries, such as mass rapid transit systems, are major candidates for JBIC co-operation. Other potential areas are providing economic crisis support for Japanese companies in Thailand, Thailand-Japan joint ventures in third countries and national resource development in the GMS by Japanese firms.

Mr. Ohmi said the bank has agreed to provide loans to Japanese automakers for developing their eco-car programmes in Thailand but declined to name the firms.

Negotiations are under way with Japanese steel companies that have expressed interest in building upstream steel facilities in Thailand, which are dependent on approval from the Thai government.

Wholly owned by the Japanese government, the JBIC is the international wing of Japan Finance Corp, which was established in October 2008 to promote trade and investment by the country's firms abroad. Its major clients in Thailand include the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand and the Siam Cement Group. Most participation has been in the power and automotive sectors.

In Asia, Thailand currently ranks third among the JBIC's total portfolio of outstanding loans, after Indonesia at the top and second place shared equally by the Philippines, China and Malaysia.

The JBIC has granted loans to Japanese firms with joint ventures in Map Ta Phut, some of which were ordered by the court to suspend operations due to regulatory concerns.

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