“Thailand’s infrastructure plans based on the Thailand 4.0 economic model, which envisions a value-based economy driven by innovation, creativity and technology will be set to restart and boost both the national and regional economies ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
After periods of slow growth in the early 2000s, the Thai government launched Thailand 4.0, a transformative economic model that serves as a comprehensive framework for a value-based economy driven by innovation, creativity and technology. Through this model, the Thai government also aimed to increase its human capital, by improving citizens’ competency levels in the market. Over the past decade, the Thai economy has made significant headway towards its objectives through various large-scale infrastructure plans in major cities, as well as regional ones.
The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) is one such large-scale technological transformation initiative that aims to build the profile of and leverage the potential of lesser-known but advantageously positioned cities in Thailand, namely Chonburi, Rayong and Chachoengsao. By developing high-tech industries and improving transportation connectivity to the ASEAN region and beyond, Thailand is cementing itself as a viable economic hub, attracting foreign investment to further bolster its economy and foster technology-driven development across the entire country.
The COVID-19 pandemic that has plagued global economies has definitely not spared Thailand’s. With tourism numbers at an all-time low, and unemployment at a record-high, Thailand is trying to come to terms with the negative effects of the pandemic. The Thailand 4.0 economic model serves to lead the country out of economic despair and reinstate its economic standing in the region and world, paving the way for the next few decades of growth.
We look at the major infrastructure developments that are set to launch this year as part of the EEC initiative, which is key to the adoption of Thailand 4.0.
Bangkok’s 3rd International Airport, U-Tapao
Bangkok’s first 2 international airports Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports have long been operating beyond capacity. The upgrade and expansion of the U-Tapao Airport in Rayong will boost Thailand’s handling capacity to up to 200 million passengers annually. This will offer foreign tourists and investors alike an additional gateway into Bangkok and the rest of Thailand as a commercial and aviation hub in the region. The project is also expected to create about 78,000 jobs in the aviation and other related industries in the first five years of operation.
High-speed train route linking Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, U-Tapao airports
In developing the EEC, the government is prioritising the creation of faster and more comprehensive routes between major transportation hubs such as airports, ports, industrial clusters and urban centers. The construction of the high-speed train route linking the 3 international airports, Suvarnabhumo, Don Mueang and U-Tapao airports will cut travel time between airports to just one hour. Economic benefits of this project include 16,000 jobs created during construction and an additional 100,000 jobs in related businesses in the following five years.
Maintenance center for repair and overhaul of planes
As part of its aim of building Thailand up as an aviation and maintenance-repair-and-operations (MRO) hub in the region, the Thai government is working closely with Airbus and Thai Airways International to establish a joint venture MRO facility at the U-Tapao International Airport. It aims to be “one of the region’s most modern and extensive facilities, offering heavy maintenance and line services for all widebody aircrafts”. By using the latest technology and advanced inspection techniques, Thailand is set to pioneer the future of the region’s aviation industry.
3rd phase of Map Ta Phut and Laem Chabang Ports
With land and air transport industries facing a major upgrading as part of the EEC initiative, Thailand port industry is also getting a facelift in line with the Thailand 4.0 economic model. The two ports in the Chonburi and Rayong provinces have signed agreements with major petrochemical and energy companies to be developed as regional hubs for petroleum and petrochemical shipments, by building a liquefied natural gas jetty and receiving terminal.
Digital Park Thailand
Digital Park Thailand is ASEAN’s largest innovation and hub, which aims to create an ecosystem to drive the ideas and innovation toward further development through tools, resources and networks. Helmed by Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA), the innovation hub is committed to facilitating digital markets both domestically and internationally unders a Smart City model, offering comprehensive services and acting as a trade and investment hub. At Digital Park Thailand, start-ups and tech entrepreneurs will gain new knowledge while taking advantage of telecommunication infrastructure and digital platforms. They will also receive support from large corporations and government organizations and have access to funding and networking opportunities. This further reinforces the government’s commitment to move the national and regional digital economies forward by investing in the future.
Thailand 4.0 will see positive growth across several industries, kickstarting the country’s economic recovery and reinvigorating the region’s overall economy . Some of the positive effects of the model will include the re-energising of the tourism industry, an open business environment and strengthening of overall infrastructure.
The Thailand 4.0 economic model will ensure that it remains as a viable contender for economic hub status in the region. With the strategic cooperation between the country as well as overseas talent, investors and expatriates will be provided with an enticing host of value propositions to look forward to.
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