June 27, 2014 9:51 pm JST

Strong foreign investment in Thailand in 2013

YUKAKO ONO, Nikkei staff writer

BANGKOK -- Foreign direct investment (FDI) to Thailand in 2013 increased more than 20% over the previous year despite the number of investment projects put on hold in the final quarter as a result of political unrest.

     Statistics released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) showed that Thailand's FDI rose to $13 billion last year - the third highest in Asean after Singapore with $64 billion and Indonesia with $19 billion.

     Thailand's FDI so far this year has slowed. There is a backlog of unapproved Board of Investment projects (BOI) stretching from October when the tenure of key appointed officials expired. With anti-government protests erupting on the streets of Bangkok, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had not appointed replacements before dissolving parliament and calling elections in December.

     BOI operations were hanging in limbo until this month when the military government that took power on May 22 finally appointed a new BOI board of directors, headed by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief and coup leader. The first fresh batch of BOI projects was approved on June 18 and included delayed plant expansions for Japanese and Chinese automakers.

     There is expected to be a significant upturn in FDI if a massive 2.4 trillion baht ($74 billion) infrastructure budget currently under consideration is approved by the military government. Projects in prospect that will require foreign participation include high-speed rail links.