The COVID-19 pandemic and the US-China trade friction have failed to slow Thailand’s resilient electronics and electrical (E&E) industry which on the contrary many investors see as a haven, Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) data shows.
In the first nine months of 2020, the number of foreign and domestic companies which applied to invest in Thailand’s E&E sector actually rose to 106 projects, from 94 projects in the same period in 2019, making it by far the most popular sector, totaling over $1.2 billion in investment applications submitted to the BOI.
With a supply chain of some 2,500 companies and 800,000 employees ranging from researchers with doctoral degrees to vocationally trained technicians and experienced assembly line workers, it is the country’s largest manufacturing employer, according to Thailand’s Electrical and Electronics Institute (EEI).
“E&E is fundamental to Thailand 4.0”, said EEI president Narat Rujirat, referring to the innovation-driven growth strategy of Southeast Asia’s second largest economy.
This ambitious vision involves creating a regional hub for futuristic industries including medical devices, electric vehicles, robotics and automation. At its heart is the technological transformation of one of Thailand’s long-established core industries, electrical and electronics, into what is today termed “Smart E&E” and the emergence of the so-called Internet of Things (IOT).
Thailand’s E&E sector has burgeoned into a global powerhouse and is the world’s second largest exporter of computer hard disc drives, air conditioners and washing machines, according to GSB Research, a unit of Thailand’s largest state-owned bank.
In total, Thailand’s E&E industry generates $56.5 billion worth of exports in 2019, or 24 percent of total exports, according Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce and GSB Research.
In addition to a strong supply chain and skilled human resources, Thailand’s attraction for E&E investors also stems from its strategic geographical location at the crossroads of Asia, which has enabled it to become one of the world’s top exporters.
Investors also benefit from privileges offered by the BOI. E&E companies focused on innovation and research and development can receive tax breaks of up to 8 years and other incentives such as renewable smart visas of up to four years for international talent and investors in key sectors such as smart electronics, as well as their families. The BOI also supports companies by helping establish industrial linkage, sourcing of local suppliers and business matching. Many companies have developed strong partnerships with local academic institutions.
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