ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thai politics key to economy
Since anti-government protests erupted in April, Thailand has been listed as one of seven countries that are not safe to visit or invest in, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) said.
"If next year the red shirts escalate the level of protests, you'll have to consider how disastrous it would be for Thailand," warned Dr. Sombat.
However, Atchaka Sibunruang, the secretary-general of the Board of Investment (BoI), argued that investors' decisions were unlikely to be affected should political dissent remain moderate, adding that BoI incentives would not change even with a change in government. Dr. Atchaka predicted growth next year in key sectors including processed food, automobiles and auto parts, electronic components, hard-disk drives (HDD) and HDD parts, and energy production.
She said the BoI was in the process of including more industrial sectors that qualify for BoI incentives, including those with low technology.
"We will not be able to compete if we continue to depend on industries that do not use a lot of skilled labour," she said.
BoI applications next year are estimated to reach 400 billion baht, the same as this year. "This is because we are not yet sure whether large projects worth hundreds of billions of baht such as the upstream steel project can occur," she said.
This year the Thai industrial sector has been hard hit by many factors such as the Map Ta Phut regulatory impasse, politics, the bearish world economy and a rising labour shortage.
Applications for BoI privileges in the first 11 months of this year totalled 378 billion baht, a 6 percent increase from the same period last year. The number of applications totaled 1,400 projects, a 42 percent increase from 992 last year.
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