* Says local, foreign investment requests tumble 42 pct in
* Investment hurt by prolonged political turmoil
* Army took control on May 22 to restore order, confidence
(Adds foreign chambers' comments)
By Orathai Sriring and Kaweevit Kaewjinda
BANGKOK, June 10 The value of applications to
invest in Thailand fell 42 percent in January-May from a year
earlier, the Board of Investment (BOI) said on Tuesday,
referring to a period of political unrest culminating in a
Months of political unrest also hurt consumption and cut
public spending. The army seized power on May 22 in a bid to
restore order and business confidence.
The total value of investment applications fell to 308
billion baht ($9.5 billion) in the first five months of this
year from a year earlier, Udom Wongviwatchai, the BOI's
secretary-general, said in a statement.
Within that, foreign investment requests dropped 10 percent
to 230 billion baht, he said.
Investment requests from Japan, Thailand's biggest investor,
fell to 72.8 billion baht in the first five months, Udom said.
He gave no comparison but the BOI website gave a figure of 168
billion baht for the same period last year, meaning requests had
dropped 57 percent this year.
Over the same period, investment pledges from the European
Union jumped 300 percent to 64.2 billion baht, while those from
the United States surged 570 percent to 41.2 billion.
Investment bids from Chinese firms increased 260 percent in
the first five months to 9.4 billion baht, while those from
South Korea rose 150 percent to 12.3 billion baht.
In the first five months, some 139 billion baht in
investment applications came in from 10 big car firms wanting to
make energy-efficient cars under a government-sponsored
Thailand is a regional vehicle production and export base
for the world's top car manufacturers and some foreign investors
think Thailand is still a good bet.
"Cars produced in Thailand are world quality. To set up a
network that is able to produce cars to those standards is not
so easy," said Yeap Swee Chuan, president of the Malaysian-Thai
Chamber of Commerce
"The infrastructure and the situation here will attract even
more companies that want to export from Thailand."
Brian Sinclair-Thompson, vice chairman of the Joint-Foreign
Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, said: "We need the
international community's understanding and a first-hand
acknowledgement of just how safe and secure it is in Thailand to
be doing business.
"Whenever we've had a downturn, we've come back bigger,
better and stronger," he added.
Last week, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, who is
overseeing economic matters for the military government, said he
expected that applications from local and foreign investors to
invest more than $21 billion would be acted on within two
Processing of these applications was held up by the turmoil
as the country was without a proper government from December
until the army took control in late May.
(Reporting by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Nick Macfie)