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18 December 2009

Thai chamber warns of severe impact on investment from Map Ta Phut case

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Thailand's Chamber of Commerce (TCC) on Thursday expressed concern that the Thai economy will be severely impacted by a lack of confidence among foreign investors if the case of 65 suspended industrial projects in Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate is prolonged for over a year, national news agency TNA reported.

The Supreme Administrative Court earlier upheld suspending operations at 65 factories and industrial projects in the country’s largest industrial estate, in Rayong province, but 11 projects designed to reduce environmental impacts have received permission to continue operations.

Dusit Nontanokorn, chairman of the TCC and the Board of Trade, also urged the government to sort the problem out as soon as possible and clarify the Map Ta Phut investment suspension issue within four or five months.

He reasoned that if the problem remains unsolved for over a year, it will affect confidence of foreign investors, causing the country to lose a huge amount of investment fund, worth between 40-50 billion baht ($1.212-$1.515 billion) during the next five to ten years, while the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will also shrink in the next ten years.

"I worry about the Thai economy in the next ten years," said Dusit. "If foreign investors do not have confidence to invest here, there will be no large investment projects. The government should solve this problem as soon as possible."

Dusit added that Thai business sector may also have to shift their large investment projects to other countries if problem remains unsolved, noting that the creation of the Asean Community in the next five years will allow a free flow of investment funding and labour within the region and Thai businesspeople may move their production base to other Asean countries.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that his government will speed up issuing regulations by the end of this year to enable the suspended Map Ta Phut industrial projects to resume operations.

The premier however said the government is also waiting for the advice of the four-party panel chaired by former prime minister Anand Panyarachun on how to assist the 65 suspended projects and speedily set up an independent body to further discuss unresolved differences.

He said all information must be ready so that the Cabinet will be able to consider the issue December 22.

Abhisit added that the unresolved problems and issues in the Map Ta Phut case will affect the industrial development in other areas, especially in southern region as planned by the government.


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