Mizuho Bank to draw Japanese investment in Thai national project

BANGKOK, NNA - Mizuho Bank and the Thai government have teamed up to attract Japanese investment in the development of the Southeast Asian country's strategic economic corridor east of Bangkok, marking the first partnership involving a Japanese financial institution in the project.

Mizuho, one of Japan's three largest commercial banks, recently signed a memorandum of understanding for business cooperation with the Eastern Economic Corridor Office, a government agency, to promote the area, which is anticipated to lead growth in industrial activity in the second largest economy in the region.

The agency is responsible for the national project to further develop the Eastern Economic Corridor spanning over 13,000 square kilometers in the three provinces of Chachoengsao, Chonburi and Rayong, aiming to achieve a total investment of 1.7 trillion baht ($54.5 billion) in infrastructure and industrial clusters such as robotics and advanced automotive manufacturing.

The linkup is the second time an international bank has become involved in the project after a similar agreement in May last year between the office and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, one of four major Chinese commercial banks.

Mizuho is planning to negotiate with various Japanese investors by June and is considering holding a joint seminar in Japan, one of the largest foreign direct investment sources for Thailand.

The Japanese bank will also provide relevant information in Japanese about the strategic corridor via its "Global InfoStation" website for its 70,000 registered customers as the information is currently available only in Thai and English.

Seiji Imai, Mizuho's managing executive officer and head of Asia and Oceania excluding East Asia, said the collaboration will help his bank widen its customer base by creating opportunities to provide financial solution services to new and current clients.

The Tokyo-based bank has strengthened its presence in Thailand and the Greater Mekong Subregion, which comprises six countries sharing the river, opening its Eastern Sea Board branch in 2015 and having some 300 corporate customers in the area, where a number of Japanese firms have moved in.

In February, the National Assembly of Thailand approved legislation for the EEC development project, which is "entering into the next step" to draw more international investors, said Kanit Sangsubhan, the government agency's secretary general, adding that cooperation with Mizuho will help fill a gap between Japanese entrepreneurs and his office.

The agency predicts that private-sector investment in the area will reach 300 billion baht this year, with Japanese companies showing interest in the automation, aerospace, pharmaceutical and automobile sectors. (NNA/Kyodo)