Although the weakened currency affects the import sector, the Thai Chamber of Commerce sees the slide of the baht as a good opportunity for Thailand to rev up foreign investment.
According to Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the chamber, plans to attract foreign investment should be accelerated to compete against peers in Asean, especially Vietnam, which is a trendy destination for foreign investors.
“Foreign investment is a must to help rehabilitate our economy after the Covid-19 outbreaks,” said Mr Sanan.
“But to win over foreign investors, Thailand needs policies that benefit and facilitate their investment.”
He said foreign investment is not only instrumental to upgrading the country’s overall competitiveness, but will also bring know-how and technology transfers, create employment and help with Thailand’s economic development.
The baht’s continued depreciation also benefits exports, agriculture and especially the tourism sector, with the number of foreign arrivals expected to surge in the fourth quarter, said Mr Sanan.
The Chinese government is likely to relax its Covid regulations later in the year, allowing more tourists from that nation to travel outside the mainland, he said.
Domestic tourism should also become more active thanks to the “We Travel Together” stimulus scheme and the continued easing of Covid-19 control measures.
“We believe foreign tourist arrivals are likely to reach up to 12 million this year,” said Mr Sanan.
“We see the baht’s weakness as delivering a positive impact for the country’s economy. We still expect the economy to grow by 2.75-3.50%, as forecast by the private sector this year.”
In a related development, the Commerce Ministry reported yesterday investments by overseas companies registered under the Foreign Business Act rose by 66% year-on-year in the first eight months of 2022 to 83.3 billion baht, led by Japan, China and Singapore.
According to Deputy Commerce Minister Sinit Lertkrai, the Foreign Business Committee approved 381 investment applications by overseas companies in the first eight months of 2022, up by 15%.
The investments are mainly in businesses that align with the government’s investment promotion policies and targeted industries, such as electric vehicle charging station services, oil exploration and engineering design.
The largest number of investments came from Japan at 96, worth 32.9 billion baht, followed by Singapore (64) worth 10.7 billion, the US (49) worth 3.2 billion, Hong Kong (28) worth 7.78 billion, the Netherlands (16) worth 4.9 billion and China (16) worth 14.7 billion.
In the first eight months of this year, 69 foreign bodies invested in the government’s flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), with combined investment worth 33.2 billion baht.
That represented 40% of all foreign investment in the country during the period.
The Japanese accounted for 31 of the EEC investments with a value of 22 billion baht, followed by Singaporeans (seven) with a value of 1.82 billion, and Americans (five) with a value of 1.07 billion. Investors from other countries contributed the rest.
“For the remaining four months of this year, we expect continued foreign investment in Thailand thanks to the government’s investment promotion measures, state stimulus measures, the reopening to overseas tourists and improved convenience in doing business,” said Mr Sinit.
“These factors will help make the economy recover faster.”