Thailand’s high-tech dream gets a Covid second chance

BANGKOK – Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme is back in vogue with the recent signing of a 290 billion baht (US$9.4 billion) contract to transform the US-military built U-Tapao airbase used for launching bombers in the Vietnam war into a commercial airport.

The EEC related megaproject, known as the Eastern Airport City, will build a new runway, terminal, industrial estate, business and duty-free zone, and an area designed for airplane maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centers.

The infrastructure-spending spree will breathe new life into the EEC, the flagship project of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha’s previous coup-installed regime (2014-19), which aims conceptually to revive the kingdom’s Eastern Seaboard industrial corridor launched in the 1980s.

The plan: uplift the country’s flagging manufacturing sector into the “4.0” era through the promotion of new value-added “S-curve” industries, including new generation autos, smart electronics, and digital services and robotic, via a new high-tech development corridor.

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