Chinese Electric Vehicle (EV) manufacturers, including MG, Great Wall, BYD, and Neta Auto, have been making significant investments in Thailand’s East Economy Corridor (EEC), marking a substantial surge in Chinese investment in the country. The head of the EEC, Chula Sukmanop, highlighted the positive impact of this influx of Chinese investment, particularly in the EV sector, on Thailand’s economy and green development in recent years.
Thailand, known as the major vehicle production and export base in Southeast Asia, has been attracting an increasing number of Chinese EV manufacturers, in line with the Thai government’s incentives for the EV industry. Chula Sukmanop expressed his views during an interview with Xinhua in Bangkok, stating that many Chinese companies have chosen to invest in Thailand to meet the domestic market demand and expand their exports to neighboring countries. This trend is expected to further enhance Thailand’s position as a significant exporter of EVs in the future.
According to the Automobile Society of Thailand, Chinese brands accounted for approximately 90 percent of Thailand’s EV market in 2021. This indicates the dominance of Chinese EV manufacturers in the country and their growing influence on the automotive sector.
To support the expansion of the EV industry, the Thai government has set a target of achieving around 30 percent of total auto manufacturing through electric vehicles by 2030. The surge in EV sales in Thailand from less than 2,000 units in 2021 to nearly 10,000 units in 2022 indicates a positive trajectory. It is projected that the sales volume will double again in 2023.
Chula Sukmanop emphasized that the presence of Chinese EV companies in Thailand has attracted related enterprises in the automobile industrial chain, including auto parts, tires, batteries, and charging stations. This not only creates employment opportunities locally but also brings advanced technology and talent training, thereby contributing to the improvement of Thailand’s labor force quality.
The EEC, which spans three coastal provinces east of the capital Bangkok (Rayong, Chonburi, and Chachoengsao), is a central focus of the Thai government’s efforts to stimulate growth and encourage investment, particularly in high-tech industries. The project aims to upgrade infrastructure and implement various investment incentives to attract high-value-added industries as the region transitions away from labor-intensive sectors.
Presently, sectors such as petrochemicals, automotive and auto parts, electronics, and appliances have witnessed the highest investment shares in the EEC. Since 2018, China has accounted for more than 10 percent of foreign investment in the EEC, making it one of the major investors in the region.
Chula Sukmanop acknowledged China’s significant contributions to Thailand’s economic growth. In addition to industrial cooperation and foreign direct investment, Chinese tourists have played a pivotal role in driving Thailand’s tourism sector as one of the largest source markets. Despite experiencing a decline in trade activities during the pandemic, the strong ties between Thailand and China, both in terms of investment and people-to-people exchanges, are expected to pave the way for a swift recovery, according to the EEC secretary general.