BANGKOK — Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko on Monday arrived in Thailand with a nearly 600-strong business delegation on a visit aimed at further strengthening economic exchanges between the two countries.Thailand in particular hopes to attract Japanese investment to its “Eastern Economic Corridor,” a landmark project aimed at developing three eastern provinces into a flagship technology hub.
At Government House in Bangkok, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha rolled out the red carpet for Seko and the mission with a reception celebrating the 130th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
Prayut, who seized power in a military coup in 2014, encouraged investment in Thailand, saying he “strongly believes” in cooperation from Japan, the country’s biggest foreign investor.
He also attributed Japan’s confidence in Thailand’s economic potential to its political stability, which he said was at its highest level in 10 years.
Seko replied there is much room for Japan to contribute to Thailand’s economic development. “We hope to tap into the vitality of the Thai economy,” he said.
The prime minister and the Japanese delegation also discussed the possibility of cooperation to develop the EEC.
The visit creates an opportunity for integration of the Thai government’s “Thailand 4.0” and Japan’s “Connected Industries” strategies as the two countries strengthen their strategic partnership.
The Japanese mission includes high-ranking officials and executives from the Japanese public and private sectors as well as economic organizations.
On Tuesday, Seko is scheduled to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, Thailand’s head of economic policy.
In June, Seko and his Thai counterpart Uttama Savanayana signed a memorandum of understanding in Tokyo on bilateral cooperation aimed at accelerating investment in the EEC particularly by Japanese high-tech companies.
The government last year approved the EEC and is actively pushing infrastructure investment to attract investors. It hopes to improve productivity in the EEC, located on the outskirts of Bangkok, with the presence of Japanese businesses with leading edge technology in such sectors as services, biotechnology and digital technology.
According to the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Bangkok, some 5,000 Japanese companies including carmakers are said to be extending their presence to Thailand, indicating that it is a key partner for Japan.