Thailand’s new PM Srettha seeks more free trade deals to lure major foreign investors

Thailand’s current Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin revealed on Friday that he was directing a lot of his energy towards bringing major beneficial changes to the nation and converting it into a prominent foreign investment destination, which includes pursuing more free trade deals and enlarging manufacturing of both electric and traditional autos.

In a wide-ranging speech at a forum, he said his government would polish infrastructure and water management, polish airports to bring more tourism, expand free trade agreements (FTAs) to compete with adjacent countries, and make it convenient  for companies to hire more foreign workers in Thailand. Thailand is ready for business with all nations,” revealed  Mr Srettha, a political neophyte who until just a few days back headed a high-end real estate firm.

“We will be directing energy to negotiating more FTAs; we are losing to Vietnam not because of the wage problem but because we have fewer FTAs.” Besides its economy being largely dependent on exports, Thailand has lagged behind its peers in investigating trade pacts with major markets, with problems ranging from allegations of protectionism and migrant labour abuse to political upheaval stemming from governments being forced from power.

Mr Srettha give importance that the nation’s foreign policy would be neutral and not take sides with the United States or China, also saying that Japan was a prominent power that Thailand was dealing with, given its in depth history as its top investor. He said he was attempting to draw electric vehicle (EV) makers to the nation, an areal auto-assembly hub.

But it would not ignore manufacturing of internal-combustion-engine cars, in a satisfaction to companies from Japan, which for years have been the important driver of its car manufacturing industry. Thailand is anticipated to draw benefit from the switch to EVs, involving through Chinese investments worth US$1.44 billion (S$1.96 billion) since 2020 – by companies such as BYD and Great Wall Motor – which have opened a new front in a market Japanese automakers historically dominated.