Thailand to woo investors
BANGKOK (AFP): Thailand plans to expand the role of state investment promotion agencies in an effort to boost its damaged economy with fresh domestic and foreign investment, reports said today. During a two-day economic workshop chaired by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, officials pledged to transform Thailand into a “knowledge-based” economy through new investment spurred by tax incentives and special privileges. Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) would play a larger role by shepherding investor funds towards Thailand’s small- and medium-sized businesses and lower-profile projects that represent weak economic links. Businesses that stand to benefit include labour-intensive industries, such as local food and craft businesses; industries targeted for improvement, such as the automotive and electronics sectors; and future growth industries, such as bio-technology. “I want to convey the message that the government is not against foreign investment. But we need to strengthen Thai investment,” Thaksin was quoted as saying. The new push for investment follows a fiery, pro-isolationist speech by Thaksin to a UN conference last week. In it, he said that “failed” economic policies modeled after the United States and Japan had created a “less-than-friendly” environment in which foreign investors had become [too] critical of Thailand. Going forward, the country must therefore “look within and build local businesses,” he warned. The premier has since reversed course, saying the new economic approach he referred to in his speech was designed to highlight self-reliance, not to signal a period of isolation for Thailand.
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