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Thai developer Amata eyes Myanmar, Laos for Chinese factories

Company looks to ASEAN neighbors to tap into Belt and Road initiative

Amata's industrial estate in Bien Hoa is located in the southern region of Vietnam.   © Picture of Amata Corporation

BANGKOK -- Amata Corp., Thailand's largest industrial estate developer, says it aims to develop more industrial estates in neighboring countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, especially Laos and Myanmar, to tap into benefits from China's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

Following its investment in Vietnam's three industrial estates -- covering a total 7,759 hectares in the major cities of Long Thanh, Bien Hoa and Ha Long -- Amata is conducting a feasibility study in Myanmar to further expand in the region, Amata's chief marketing officer Viboon Kromadit told the Nikkei Asian Review.

"The idea is to try to tap into the usage of China's Belt and Road in the ASEAN region. We see it as link to other regions of the world," Viboon said.

Viboon said a project to develop a new industrial estate in Laos is also a part of the long-term plan to capitalize on Chinese investments that are about to enter ASEAN countries, particularly Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, known as the CLMV countries.

"We believe that China will continue to invest outside its homeland and massive Chinese direct investment is expected to come into CLMV, where China's Belt and Road passes through. This is a rising trend and we are trying to develop more industrial estates to meet rising demand as new Chinese factories are coming on the region," he added.

In Vietnam, Amata started developing the first industrial estate to be created since 1994 in the southern city of Bien Hoa, of which 90% has already been developed and occupied by 165 factories from 21 countries, but mainly China.

In Thailand, Amata also set aside a special zone of around 480 hectares in its industrial zone in Rayong to accommodate new Chinese factories. There are already 100 Chinese factories in the zone.

This year, Amata aims to develop more areas in Long Thanh and in Ha Long, setting a target of selling another 20 hectares of developed land in Vietnam this year.

Amata also aims to sell 128 hectares of industrial land in its existing industrial estates in Chonburi and Rayong provinces, which are part of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), a $43 billion flagship investment project to develop high-tech industries along Thailand's Eastern Seaboard and further inland.

With rising industrial land sales in Thailand and Vietnam and incoming foreign investment due to the much-promoted EEC, the company expects total revenue to rise 10% this year, and net profit could rise at the same rate.

Amata posted a net profit of 1.4 billion baht ($42.5 million) in 2017, up from 1.2 billion baht the previous year.

 

Amata plans to develop its land in Chonburi and Rayong to match the five targeted industrial sectors of the EEC. They are aviation, robotics, electronic vehicles, logistics for e-commerce, and the industries of food for the future.

"We are developing our land to match the demand of those high-tech industries, which are about to come in the near future," Viboon said.

Apart from land sales, Amata also tries to secure long-term revenues by operating power plants and selling power to customers in its industrial estates.

Amata has 10 gas-fired power plants in its industrial cities in Chonburi and Rayong, with total power generating capacity of 1,400 megawatts.

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