New Thai premier heads to Japan to restore confidence in kingdom

Other News Materials 5 February 2009 07:46 (UTC +04:00)

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva departed Thursday for Japan on a roadshow designed to restore confidence in the kingdom, which was plagued by political chaos last year, dpa reported.

Japan, the biggest single investor in Thailand with one of its largest overseas business communities in the world living in Bangkok, last year expressed concerns about the kingdom's volatile political situation, which culminated in a weeklong closure by protestors of the capital's two airports, disrupting travel and trade and costing the country and companies billions of dollars in lost revenues.

Abhisit, who became prime minister on December 15 and heads a new coalition government led by his Democrat Party, has made restoring investors' confidence in Thailand one of his priorities.

"We will assure investors that our country is back to normal and we welcome foreign investors," Thai Industry Minister Charnchai Chairungrueng told reporters Wednesday.

In Japan, the Thai delegation is to discuss the prospects of boosting Thai food exports to Japan and ask for more Japanese investment in the automotive and steel industries.

The Thai delegation was also expected to explain investment opportunities in Thailand's mega-projects and infrastructure developments.

On Tuesday, the Thai cabinet approved 270 billion baht (7.8 billion dollars) in domestic and foreign borrowing to boost liquidity in state enterprises and finance infrastructure projects.

Under the massive borrowing scheme, besides 200 billion baht in short-term loans from local banks, Thailand would also seek 2 billion dollars from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to help finance infrastructure projects.

But Abhisit has cautioned that the foreign funds would only be used if they were necessary to stimulate the economy at the start of the fiscal year, which begins October 1.