BANGKOK: Thailand is targeting 2.2 trillion baht (US$66.87 billion) of investment in the country’s industrial east over the next five years (2022-2026), a government official said on Monday, as the country tries to spur long-term economic growth.

The investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) will be 100 billion baht (US$3 billion) in the eastern aviation city project and 100 billion baht in rail transit-related development, EEC head Kanit Sangsubhan told a briefing.

About 400 billion baht each year will be investment in targeted industries such as modern automotive, digital electronics and modern medical and logistics, Kanit said.

Under the current 2018-2022 plan, investment in the EEC has reached 1.6 trillion baht so far and should hit the targeted 1.7 trillion baht this year, a year ahead of schedule.

The EEC is a centrepiece of government efforts to boost growth and encourage investment particularly in high-tech industries. Investors are allowed to lease land for up to 99 years.

Thailand’s tourism-dependent economy, Southeast Asia’s second largest, contracted 6.1per cent last year, its deepest slump in over two decades, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The government expects growth of just 0.7per cent to 1.2per cent this year.

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