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Thailand to integrate the EEC with China’s One Belt One Road Initiative

Thailand said a US$44 billion plan to add infrastructure and upgrade industry on its eastern seaboard can link up with China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Olivier Languepin

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Since 2017, the Thai government has explored plans to connect the EEC to OBOR Initiative. which aims to create trade connections between Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Thailand said a US$44 billion plan to add infrastructure and upgrade industry on its eastern seaboard can link up with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as part of a push to encourage economic growth.

The US$44 billion EEC is expected to turn Thailand’s Eastern provinces into a trade and industry hub creating as much as 100,000 jobs a year by 2020. The majority jobs will be in the manufacturing and service industry. Investors will also receive favourable conditions under the EEC.

The EEC plan covers Rayong, Chachoengsao and Chonburi provinces. Under the project, Thailand will aim to take on Singapore’s dominance in aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul as part of a US$5.7 billion upgrade of U-Tapao International Airport.

The Thai government has given approval for a 220-kilometre high speed train project worth 200-billion baht to link three airports as part of the development of its eastern economic corridor (EEC).

The approval was passed by the Eastern Economic Corridor Policy Committee chaired by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday (Feb 26).

The high speed rail network project will connect three main airports,  Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport, spanning a distance of 220 kilometres.

The project gained impetus after U-tapao airport in Ban Chang district of Rayong was upgraded to become the 3rd international airport in the country.

Connectivity is essential for both plans

Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha delivered his national address on 12 May 2017 and said that Thailand needs to develop infrastructure with China to facilitate connectivity.

A high-speed China-Thailand railway under OBOR is under construction and will be the first high-speed railway in Thailand.

The railway will connect Thailand to Laos and Kunming in China. Submarine cables will connect Bangkok with Hong Kong and mainland China. This extensive connectivity will boost tourism and attract investment.

The US$125 billion OBOR is a mega infrastructure project. It involves 70 countries and international organisations. It will strengthen bilateral trading ties between China and Thailand. It will also help boost cultural exchanges.

Since 2013 when President Xi Jinping first outlined the One Belt One Road initiative, it has attracted a huge amount of attention in the business community.

But little is known about what it means in concrete, commercial terms, whether within or beyond China. “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) is an initiative which aims to improve and create new trade routes, links and business opportunities with China, passing through more than 60 countries along the way, across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

It is also described as a sort of upgraded version of the original Silk Road, established more than 2,000 years ago : a vast network of trade routes that promoted exchange between Asia, Africa, and Europe.

One Belt, or One Road ?

Just to be clear : the Belt is actually designed to be a road, but the Road is actually a sea route…

In short, the One Belt component t is a land route designed to connect China with Central Asia, Eastern and Western Europe. It will link China with the Mediterranean Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, South Asia and South-East Asia

The oddly named One Road component is a sort of  21st-Century Maritime Silk Road that runs from China’ east coast to Europe passing through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

China’s One Belt One Road Initiative : the Silk Road 2.0 ?

Thailand to integrate the Eastern Economic Corridor with China’s One Belt One Road Initiative

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