BITA Economy: Economic Strategy in 8 Eastern Provinces


BITA Economy: Economic Strategy in 8 Eastern Provinces

BITA Economy: Economic Strategy in 8 Eastern Provinces


Prof. Dr. Kriengsak Charoenwongsak
Senior Fellow at Harvard University
President of the Nation Building Institute (NBI)
President of the Institute of Future Studies for Development (IFD),

          The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which consists of three provinces, namely Chachoengsao, Chonburi, and Rayong, is important to the country's economic development because 80% of the investment budget is allocated to this area. Therefore, the success or failure of the EEC will inevitably affect the country's ability to move forward.

         I put forward that in order to strengthen the EEC, Thailand should upgrade the EEC to EEC Plus by considering the three main provinces in the EEC as the egg yolk and the other five provinces in the eastern region (Prachinburi, Chanthaburi, Trat, Sa Kaeo, Nakhon Nayok) as the white and to formulate development strategies according to the Identity and uniqueness of each province. The provincial strategy must enhance the overall picture of the EEC from the aforementioned concept. Therefore, I propose a development concept on the strengths of all eight provinces as EEC Plus centered on the "BITA Economy" which consists of

          1) Bio-Green Economy

          The eastern region is a source of good quality and diverse agricultural products. This is in line with EEC's target industries such as agriculture and biotechnology, the bio-fuel industry, biochemical industry, food processing industry, and the pursuit of environmental friendliness.

          2) Integrated Tourism Economy

          The eastern region has world-famous tourist attractions. There are various tourism resources which can be used as a unique selling point for tourism, such as food, herbs, medical services, history. Also, development of the airport high speed train will bring more tourists especially business tourists.

           Promotion of this integrated tourism economy may cover business tourism, commercial tourism, sea and beach tourism, ecotourism, medical tourism, historical tourism, wellness tourism, and other related areas.

          3) Automation Economy

          The eastern region is an industrial base which uses high technology. It has the opportunity to develop into the mechatronics industry, an industry that integrates many fields, including automotive and mechanical industries, electrical and electronic industry, computer industry and others.

          However, the superpower countries have developed their economy in this direction as well. Thailand has to focus on gaps in the sub-niche of these industries. It should become a part of the supply chain or apply specific applications according to the strength in the country, such as automation systems for agriculture, health services, etc.

          After considering the regional strategies, each province's strategy should be aligned in this direction while providing support to each other. The strategy of eight provinces in EEC Plus I propose to be the following:

          1) Rayong: Bioplastics (Biochemical) Industry and Business Tourism

          Oil refining and petrochemical industries make up half of Rayong's industry. It is mainly an investment of PTT Company Limited, which has the potential and intention to develop bio-plastics by setting up the Vidyasirimedhi Institute to study and do research. Rayong should focus on upgrading production to more environmentally-friendly products, such as using biological materials to create newer, safer materials and the development of biodegradable plastics that can also possibly be circulated for reuse.

          In addition, Rayong has developed a large logistics infrastructure such as airports, high-speed trains, double-track railways, motorways, ports, and beautiful resources for tourism. It’s also close to the world famous tourist destination Pattaya. Therefore, it is capable of attracting investment and business tourism from abroad as well.

          2) Chonburi: Mechatronics industry, artificial Intelligence and robotics (AI-Robot) with both marine/beach, and medical tourism

          Chonburi is currently the production base for the automotive industry, automotive parts, electrical appliances, and electronics industry. In addition, the Sriracha district is also a digital industry and innovation promotional zone. These industries are the foundation of the mechatronics industry, artificial intelligence, and robotics.

          However, the development of the mechatronics industry, artificial intelligence and robotics in Chonburi should focus on some sub-niche marketing. For instance, manufacturing parts is a part of the mechatronics and artificial intelligence and robotics supply chain. Furthermore, it can be applied to support other market gaps in the region, such as the application of artificial intelligence and robotics in medicine, agriculture, tourism, etc.

          In addition, Pattaya has a beautiful sea and beaches. It generates up to 25 percent of the provincial gross product from tourism and investment from private hospitals is also growing to serve foreigners. The government, therefore, assigned Chonburi to be the location of the Medical Innovation Center, namely the Thammasat EECmd Center (Pattaya) and the Genomics Medical Center of Burapha University (Bangsaen), which all support Chonburi as a leader in marine and beach tourism as well as medical tourism

          3) Chachoengsao: Electric Vehicle Industry and Food Wellness Tourism

          The automotive industry in Chachoengsao has the highest value in the region; however, the growing popularity of electric vehicles has forced some of the traditional auto parts industry to stop operating. Therefore, there should be guidelines to support the adaptation to new industries such as agricultural machinery, or rural vehicles.

           In addition, Chachoengsao is also an important food production area that can produce a variety of quality food and is ranked at the top in the country for products such as chicken eggs, mangoes, pork. Therefore, it can be developed to create food wellness tourism to elevate the economy in the area as well.

          4) Prachinburi: The World’s Wellness Capital

          Prachinburi's most outstanding strength is its knowledge of herbs, Thai traditional medical practice, and being the location of Chaophraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital which has been promoted by the government as a pilot herbal city. Consequently, Prachinburi should be upgraded to “Healthy City” which will develop wellness industries while aiming to become the World’s Wellness Capital

          5) Chanthaburi: The World’s Fruit Capital

          According to the Provincial Mass Product (GPP) of Chanthaburi, the agricultural sector accounts for 55.4 percent of the provincial GPP making it the highest value in the country. In addition, the government has a policy to promote Thailand as a superpower in the world tropical fruit trade with Chanthaburi as leading "City of Fruit in the World". Thus, Chanthaburi is suitable to be named the World’s Fruit Capital.

          6) Trat: Island Tourism and Seafood Tourism

          Trat is famous for marine tourism and it’s islands as it has a coastline of 165.5 kilometers with 52 small and large islands, most notably, Koh Chang which is well-known internationally and is host to dense mangrove forests. Therefore, Trat has the highest income from tourism in the Eastern Region II. In addition, Trat also has a private airport that services three flights of Bangkok Airways per day, and has been authorized as a customs airport. Importantly as well, it is also a source of quality food production and its fishery products hold the highest value in the region.

          7) Sa Kaeo:  Historic Heritage Tourism and Thai-Indochina Trade Tourism

          Sa Kaeo has the most border trade in the east as it is a gateway to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. It also has historical sites influenced by the Khmer civilization. Therefore, it is one of the routes to travel to Angkor Wat, the target destination in Cambodia for world-class tourists.

          8) Nakhon Nayok: Eco-Tourism

           Nakhon Nayok is rich in natural attractions, centered around Khao Yai National Park. There are lots of accommodations to support tourism, meetings, training, seminars and various services. It is near Bangkok so it attracts the largest number of visitors in the Eastern Region II, making it suitable to be an eco-tourism city.

          However, no matter how outstanding each province is, without appropriate strategies and integration to support each other, we will lose the opportunity to use the strengths of each area to get out the most value. Opportunity not only belongs to those who are better prepared, but also belongs to those who see it first.

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