BANGKOK(BLOOMBERG) - Thailand is planning to build a US$37 billion (S$52 billion) smart city in an industrial hub near Bangkok that is already drawn billions of dollars of investment pledges from global automotive, robotics, healthcare and logistics companies.
A master-plan to build the city in Huai Yai subdistrict of Chonburi province, some 160km southeast of Bangkok, was approved by a panel chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday (July 11).
The yet-to-be-named city will be spread over 2,340 ha of land and will cost 1.34 trillion baht, or US$37 billion, over the next 10 years, officials said.
The project will comprise five business centres for companies to rent as commercial areas, Dr Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the Eastern Economic Corridor, told reporters.
These will include a hub to house regional headquarters of firms, a financial centre, and areas for precision medicine, international research and development, and future industries such as clean energy and 5G technology, he said.
The residential quarter of the new city will be designed to accommodate 350,000 people by 2032, and generate 200,000 direct jobs, Dr Kanit said.
Residents will be mostly those employed in the industrial area, which is set to draw investments of about 2.2 trillion baht over the next 5 years, he said.
"The new city will be livable for the new generation of people as well as operate as business centres" Dr Kanit said. "We created this new project to compensate for the income Thailand lost during the pandemic."
The new city with its business centres can add an estimated 2 trillion baht to Thailand's gross domestic product within 10 years, and the value of assets after a 50-year concession period will see a fivefold jump, the government said in a statement.
Mr Prayut's government has touted the Eastern Economic Corridor, a development project whose goals include urbanisation, spurring advanced industries and adding infrastructure, to bolster the nation's pace of economic growth that lags behind neighbours such as Indonesia and Vietnam.
The Eastern Economic Corridor comprises three provinces that historically have been the country's manufacturing hub and currently contributes as much as one-fifth of the Thai economy. Its output is growing 6-7 per cent each year, faster than the rest of the country, according to officials.