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NEWS UPDATES 29 January 2010

Map Ta Phut Stalemate:
Japanese investors warns Thailand of relocation

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Japanese investors are concerned and could consider relocating their investments if the Thai government does not tackle the current stalemate over environmental regulation at the country’s largest industrial estate, Map Ta Phut, within six months, national news agency TNA reported.

The investment atmosphere in Thailand overall is still welcoming, Thailand needed to set up clear criteria and more quickly find a solution to the Map Ta Phut deadlock, the agency quoted Yo Jitsukata,  president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce (JCC), as saying in Bangkok Thursday after discussions with Thai Industry Minister Charnchai Chairungruang.

If a solution could not be found within the given timeframe, he warned, it might prompt a rethink among Japanese investors whose investments are nearly one-third of Map Ta Phut’s total investments as to whether they would relocate their investments to other countries.

Five months ago Thailand’s Central Administrative Court issued an injunction suspending 76 industrial projects at Map Ta Phut due to environmental concerns. The injunction followed complaints from residents and environmental groups that state agencies had failed to issue proper operating licences for the industrial projects.

The Supreme Administrative Court later allowed 11 of the 76 projects to continue operating, with 65 to remain shuttered until they comply with the environmental and health requirements of Section 67 of the 2007 Constitution.

Meanwhile, Charnchai said he had clarified to the chamber president about the government’s efforts in speeding up  a resolution of the impasse including the setting up a four-party panel and a central committee to sort out the dilemma in accordance with the country’s constitution.

The industry ministry said the Japanese chamber president was more confident after being briefed about the progress, but stood firm that Japanese investors want to see a clear solution within the given time.

The Japanese Chamber of Commerce also gave assurances that it would not now remove Japanese investments in the country but was ready to expand its investment plans, according to Charnchai.

The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) earlier expressed concern about the Map Ta Phut impasse, saying that the government’s timeframe to settle the problem within four to five months was too long for investors to wait, while Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva later expressed confidence that the industrial estate environmental regulations problem would ease with an entire process to cope with the case already in place within six months.

In a related development, the JCC will form a committee to work with Thailand’s Revenue Department to resolve the problem of collecting taxes when transactions are made by Japanese parent companies via their Thai subsidiaries, according to secretary-general of Thailand’s Board of Investment, Mrs Atchaka Sribunruang.


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