กระทรวงอุตสาหกรรม

Source - Bangkok Post (Eng)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

 

          Major Thai companies are planning to start bioeconomy projects, expecting to create demand for value-added farm products by using advanced technology, says Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana.

          He said Mitr Phol, the country's biggest sugar producer, and PTT Plc, Thailand's oil and gas conglomerate, have brainstormed with the ministry on coordinating development of factories to produce bio-based cosmetic products.

          "They want to start with cosmetic products because it is a fast-growing sector," Mr Uttama said. "After that, they could develop other bio-based industrial products."

          These projects could help reduce expensive imports of some raw materials, he said.

          Bioeconomy is a new industrial sector the government is promoting to add value to Thai farm products.

          Mitr Phol plans to set up a factory to develop cosmetics from sugar and its byproducts, while PTT is interested in extracting fat from agriculture products to blend with its petroleum byproducts to create bioplastics, Mr Uttama said.

          The ministry suggested the two spearhead factories in the Northeast, where there is plenty of sugar cane and other crops that could supply their demand, he said.

          "The aim of our talks with Mitr Phol and PTT is to develop a bioeconomy and the biochemical industry in other parts of the country beyond Map Ta Phut," Mr Uttama said.

          He said the two companies are working on action plans and will get back to the ministry in a few months to see what kind of support is available. The projects will be implemented via the Pracha Rat initiative (People's State) partnership model.

          "We want to see clear plans from the private sector before lending a hand," Mr Uttama said. "We want to be sure the bioeconomy will not lead to other problems such as biochemical industries that cause a sugar cane shortage."

          To prevent crop shortages from supplying the bioeconomy, he said the Industry Ministry and companies need to work closely with the Agriculture Ministry to conduct agricultural zoning.

27 เมษายน 2560 09:41

Saab mulls maintenance hub in EEC

Source - Bangkok Post (Eng)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

          Saab Automobile AB, a Swedish manufacturer of fighter jets, among other products, has expressed interest in investing in a production and maintenance hub in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), says Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana.

          After meeting with Kaj Rosander, executive vice-president of Saab Asia-Pacific, Mr Uttama said Saab is interested in building a maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) hub at U-tapao airport.

          The airport is slated to be upgraded from an ageing military outpost to a modern commercial airport providing air logistics service to serve rising demand in Thailand's Eastern Seaboard.

          "Saab does not have an MRO hub in the region and it sees Thailand as the perfect spot in which to invest because of its location in the middle of the Asean and its links to the region, including to potential production hubs," he said.

          Saab Asia-Pacific, whose products include submarines, missiles, radar and fighter jets, is interested in the Thai government's foreign investment incentives for EEC.

          The EEC is the government's flagship policy to boost the Thai economy and push the country towards modern industry. The EEC will span a combined 30,000 rai in the provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao to accommodate investment in 10 targeted industries.

          The industries are next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.

          Arne Heden, senior adviser from the parent company in Sweden, and Dan Averstad, director of the Swedish Defence Authority, were also at the meeting with Mr Uttama yesterday, indicating the company plans to invest not only in fighter jets, but also in several commercial aeroplane parts.

          Mr Uttama said the Thai government will work to coordinate talks between Saab and Thai Airways International Plc to seek ways to develop an aviation hub in the EEC.

          Saab's representatives are scheduled to observe U-tapao airport soon to determine an investment plan.

          After the meeting, Mr Uttama said the two sides agreed to set up a working committee on the progress of EEC development and Saab investment in Thailand.

          Members of the working committee will comprise representatives from Saab and Thai government officials working on the EEC development.

          "The committee is scheduled to meet every month to accelerate Saab's investment in the EEC, aiming to start within the next few years," he said.

Source - The Nation (Eng)

Thursday, April 06, 2017

          PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday assured investors that his government was firmly committed to developing the Eastern Economic Corridor on a long-term and sustainable basis and would warmly welcome participation by the private sector.

          He made the remarks during his visit to the eastern province of Rayong with his ministers to follow up on EEC development and the upgrade of U-tapao International Airport.

          At the airport, he met with representatives of businesses who wanted to learn more about the EEC project.

          The EEC policy committee yesterday resolved to designate U-tapao and its surroundings as an "Eastern Aviation City", whose 6,500 rai (1,040 hectares) of land would be developed at a cost of  Bt200 billion over five years.

          The EEC draft bill will be tabled before the Cabinet at its Tuesday meeting.

          The prime minister told the business representatives that the government was deeply determined to turn the EEC into the country's future growth engine and would continue to draw up investment privileges, issue regulations and increase manpower to support the corridor's growth, said Lt-General Weerachon Sukondhapatipak, deputy PM Office spokesman.

          Some of the business representatives said they were ready to support the EEC plan.

          Weerachon cited a representative of BMW as saying the carmaker was ready to work closely with the government to push forward the EEC's development.

          A representative of Lazada said the government should breed more digital and information-technology workers to serve the rapid expansion of the digital business here.

          A representative from Toyota said the car company plans to invest to its fullest extent in Thailand.

          Prayut said after the meeting of the EEC policy committee that the corridor was the first step of the country on its way to joining the high-income league. The EEC, which spans Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong provinces, is designed to be the leading economic zone in Asean and to embrace 10 target industries.

          As part of the EEC's road map, the Navy and Thai Airways Inter-national signed an agreement to develop jointly the first phases of the aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul centre and the air cargo and logistics centre.  The moves are part of the plan to transform U-tapao into an aviation service hub operating at international standards.

          Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, president of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, said the firm was ready to open a medical facility in the EEC.

          Medical centre

          He said he had no problem financing the project if the government was ready to set a national agenda for Thailand to become a regional medical hub and ensure the plan materialised.

          Once the government put the agenda into place,  Prasert's  BDMS group would rush to start the investment in the EEC late this year.

          Hiroki Mitsumata, president of Jetro Bangkok, the local arm of the Japan External Trade Organisation, said Japanese companies had confidence in the Thai government but could not specify when they would start investing in the EEC.  Japanese investors think the EEC should offer more benefits than the present measures.

          Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said Toyota Motors (Thailand) was prepared to reveal a big investment plan for the EEC.

          He said Jetro was welcome to consult formally with the government on the matter but he believed that the Japanese investors would definitely jump into the EEC zone.

          The EEC committee also assigned the National Economic and Social Development Board to join with the Interior Ministry and state agencies to conduct a feasibility study on setting up a smart city in Chachoengsao.

27 เมษายน 2560 09:40

Car testing centre ready by 2018

Source - Bangkok Post (Eng)

Monday, April 03, 2017

          Thailand's first automotive and tyre-testing centre following global standards is due to be ready for use by next year.

          The centre will be used to certify Thai automotive and tyre products as well as for research and development (R&D) to help in the country's push to become a hub for next-generation auto products, said Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana.

          The 3.7-billion-baht testing centre is located on 1,234 rai of land in Chachoengsao province's section of the Eastern Economic Corridor.

          "The first phase of the testing centre should be ready for Thai car and tyre makers in 2018. The whole testing centre should be ready for full operation in 2019," said Mr Uttama.

          The project was launched in 2015 as the government wants to support not only the automotive sector but also tyre-related industries to boost demand for natural rubber. Tyre industries consume around 70% of total rubber products.

          He said the testing centre would be the first with global standards in Thailand, accepted by major global automakers in the US, Australia, Europe and Japan. That level of quality should help improve auto production technology and industry standards as the country prepares for the next generation of vehicles in Thailand 4.0, said Mr Uttama.

          He said the testing centre includes an R&D centre that the government hopes will enable the Thai auto industry to become the automotive hub of Asean.

          "The construction of a tyre-testing track and a new car-testing track following global standards is due to start next month. They are expected to be ready for testing by next year," said Mr Uttama.

          Somchai Hanhiran, permanent industry secretary, said the first phase of the testing centre, with a 1.4-kilometre testing track, is due to be completed first, ready for testing by mid-2018. For the second phase, the government expects to construct five small testing fields for several types of automobiles, tyres and auto parts testing processes.

          The ministry is requesting another tranche of the budget from the government for construction of the second phase, which is due to start next year.

27 เมษายน 2560 09:39

Alibaba EEC drive to start in 2017

Source - Bangkok Post (Eng)

Saturday, April 01, 2017

          Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group expects to start investing in its production and logistics hub in Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) this year, says Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana.

          The project, named "Fifth generation e-commerce park", would be more than just a logistics hub to support Alibaba's e-commerce business in the region. It would also house production plants for Thai and foreign small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), said Mr Uttama.

          "Alibaba's fifth generation e-commerce park is a new business model for this region. It will include a production plant, logistics centre and a training centre for Thai and foreign SMEs," he said after a meeting with executives of Lazada Group, an Alibaba subsidiary.

          Alibaba's investment in the EEC is part of the Thai government's attempt to attract foreign investors to expand their business in the targeted EEC sectors.

          The EEC spans a combined 30,000 rai in the provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao to accommodate investment in 10 targeted industries. These are next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.

          Mr Uttama said Alibaba is drafting an investment plan that should be finalised by May, when the company's executives are due to meet the Industry Minister again to talk about more details.

          He said the first phase of the e-commerce park is due to start construction soon after the company finalises its investment plan. The full scale of investment will take place over a period of years.

          "Alibaba insisted it will invest in the EEC because it is the most interesting area with attractive investment offers, located in the centre of Asean. The location makes it a perfect logistics hub for Alibaba," said Mr Uttama.

          He said Alibaba is about to select a location for its park from five options in the EEC area.

          The company wants to use Thailand to be a production base for Asean, particularly Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, linking to global markets in the future, said Mr Uttama.

          "Alibaba's investment here will be different from that in Malaysia, where it is expected to be an e-commerce platform only. In contrast, its investment in Thailand will be broader, covering production platforms," he said.

27 เมษายน 2560 09:38

Carmakers call for EV support

Source - Bangkok Post (Eng)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

          Carmakers are ready to splurge on electric vehicles (EVs), particularly on hybrid models, but have urged the authorities to find ways to make them more affordable.

          Ninnart Chaitharapinyo, vice-chairman of Toyota Motor Thailand, said yesterday the company is ready to move into hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) production in the country, and is scheduled to disclose its corresponding investment plan within the next 12 months.

          "Toyota is looking forward to exporting HEVs from Thailand in the future", he said. "Toyota's EV production plan will focus largely on HEV models, as PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and BEVs (battery electric vehicles) require higher technology".

          Mr Ninnart said the HEV segment is promising given the massive number of units sold globally.

          Some 1.4 million HEVs were sold world-wide last year, compared with only 150,000 units of PHEVs and 275,000 BEVs.

          Mr Ninnart said the company is also conducting a feasibility study to establish its own local battery manufacturing facility to serve Toyota's HEV production in the long run.

          But he said Toyota would rather make nickel-metal hydride batteries (NiMH), as it does in Japan and China.

          "NiMH batteries are not yet an out-of-date technology although other carmakers prefer lithium-ion batteries", said Mr Ninnart.

          Morikazu Chokki, president and chief executive of Mitsubishi Motors Thailand, said Mitsubishi is also keen on the EV scheme, but said its Japanese parent company first needs to carefully consider and consult with its EV suppliers before making a decision in 2018

          He said PHEVs seem to match up with the Thai government's EV promotion plans, adding BEVs still need related infrastructure such as charging stations, an area in which Thailand is far from ready.

          "Mitsubishi itself is aldo very interested in PHEVs globally due to technological considerations", he said.

          Mr Chokki said the EV scheme is unlikely to negatively affect current eco-car production as there are separate buyers for the two segments, while EV prices are still relatively higher than conventional vehicles.

          Meanwhile, the cabinet yesterday approved additional measures, including a steep excise tax cut for Evs, to stimulate domestic demand.

          Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said the excise tax for HEVs and PHEVs will be cut to 5% from 10%, while the one levied on BEVs that release CO2 emissions below 100 grammes per kilometre will be cut to just 2%

          But such tax cuts will only be offered conditionally on manufacturing projects approved by the Board of Investment (BoI) and apply to batteries that are made or assembled in Thailand from the fifth year onwards.

          The excise tax cuts come in addition to the promotional privileges for EVs rolled out by the BoI last Friday.

          The BoI's privileges, focusing on production of HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs, include tax holidays of 5-8 years.

          The scheme includes passenger cars, pickup trucks and buses, with different rates of privileges based on production technology.

          The cabinet also yesterday approved a raft of measures to be offered by various ministries to support electric car production in Thailand.

          The government estimates that EVs are expected to total 2-3% of new cars over the next five years.