Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office is set to sign a MoU later this month with the administrative committee of the Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone (ZAEZ) to support the Thai government’s flagship economic project.
Approved by the Thai parliament in February 2018, the aim of the EEC is to develop its eastern provinces into a leading ASEAN economic zone. The EEC straddles three eastern provinces of Thailand – Chonburi, Rayong, and Chachoengsao – off the coast of the Gulf of Thailand and spans a total of 13,285 sqkm.
The government hopes to complete the EEC by 2021, turning these provinces into a hub for technological manufacturing and services with strong connectivity to its ASEAN neighbors by land, sea and air.
Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, says the strategic partnership with the ZAEZ will not only help promote joint investment in the two economic zones, but also boost Thai economic growth by about two percentage points a year from 2020 onward, according to a report in the Bangkok Post.
The ZAEZ is an airport-based economic zone developed around Henan Province’s Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport (CGO). It sits about 25 km to the southeast of Zhengzhou and occupies an area of 415 sq km.
The project is China’s first national-level airport economic comprehensive experimental zone. The hub integrates aviation, high-speed rail, an intercity railway, a subway and an expressway. It follows international standards, aiming to cultivate an advanced manufacturing cluster with smart terminals, an aviation economy and an ‘aerotropolis’.
The idea is based on cities built around airports to connect time-sensitive suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and business people to distant customers, clients and marketplaces.
“Zhengzhou airport in central China has completed three of the five runways it plans to use,” Kanit says. “The airport also uses an intelligent cargo system. The cooperation between the EEC and the ZAEZ will not only benefit Thai tourism in the EEC and surrounding areas, but also help support the future capacity utilisation of U-tapao airport.”
The aerotropolis would stretch 30km from U-tapao airport with the EEC Office expecting some 600 companies to set up offices there related to the aerospace, medical, fashion and smart electronics industries.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak is scheduled to visit the ZAEC and chair the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing between the EEC and the ZAEC during 27-29 April.
Kanit said the MoU sees the two sides foster cooperation on information exchange and sharing of experience on aerotropolis development relating to air hubs and connectivity planning, industrial recruitment strategies, aerotropolis institute cooperation, urban planning, culture, tourism, research activities and promotion, the report says.
The two sides will further promote aviation connectivity and integrated supply chains between the EEC and the ZAEZ.
“Henan and the EEC plan to establish in-depth economic cooperation covering trade and investment,” Kanit adds.
In 2018, Henan’s GDP was worth 480 billion yuan, up 7.6 per cent from the previous year.
Chiyawan Chongvatana, commercial minister for the Thai embassy in China, said that in recent years total trade volume between the two countries has expanded, the Bangkok Post reports. China has been Thailand’s largest partner for six straight years, and the country is China’s third-largest trading partner among Asean members.
In 2018, bilateral trade between China and Thailand reached USD 88 billion with the 6th China-Thailand Joint Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation aiming to expand bilateral trade to USD 140 billion by 2021.
Bilateral trade between Henan and Thailand hit USD 874 million in 2018, with exports from Thailand reaching USD 272 million and imports amounting to USD 602 million, according to the report.
Top products exported from Thailand to Henan are rubber, electronic equipment, plastic, rice, cassava products and cosmetics, while top products sent from Henan to Thailand are mobile phones, garments, dry mushrooms and chemical products.