January 9, 2019 / 7:39 AM / 8 days ago

UPDATE 1-Thai 2018 investment applications top $28 bln, exceed target

(Adds details, background)

BANGKOK, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Investment applications in Thailand reached a total of 902 billion baht ($28.2 billion) in 2018, 43 percent higher than the previous year and beating a target of 720 billion baht, the state investment agency said on Wednesday.

Thai and foreign firms submitted a total of 1,626 projects in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, the agency said in a statement.

Of those, 680 billion baht of planned investment was for the Eastern Economic Corridor, a centrepiece of the junta’s policy to boost growth and hi-tech industries such as robotics, electric vehicles and aviation.

The agency said 84 percent of applications were in the government’s target industries, including digital healthcare, petrochemical and robotics, with a total value of 758 billion baht.

In October-December, “there were many big projects in the petrochemical industry... and automotive groups that applied for (investment) promotion,” Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told reporters.

The Board of Investment targets 750 billion baht of investment pledges in 2019, only slightly higher than last year’s target due to uncertain global economic conditions, Somkid said.

In 2018, Thailand approved separate projects by Nissan Motor Co and Honda Motor Co, adding up to $888 million, to produce hybrid electric cars and batteries.

Higher expectations for investments is partly driven by companies shifting production and supply chains out of China to Southeast Asia, with countries such as Thailand and Vietnam being popular destinations.

$1 = 32.0300 baht Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Richard Borsuk

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