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Feature: Thai-Chinese industrial zone brings Thailand prosperity

by Chen Jiabao, Guo Xinhui

BANGKOK, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Vichit Nivan, a Thai technician who works in a Chinese packaging manufacturer, feels proud as he can always spot toiletries packaging made by his factory, or maybe even produced by himself.

"It's wonderful to see that all these things are made in Thailand," said Vichit, who works for Luencheong Dispensing Pump (Thailand) Co., Ltd, a packaging manufacturer providing dispensing pumps and aerosol valves in Thailand.

A presence in the Thai-Chinese Rayong industrial zone in Thailand's Rayong Province since 2016, the company has more than 300 staff members. It produces 3.2 million spray pumps and 500,000 valves every day, and serves the Southeast Asian market.

"I've been working here for five years. I used to rent a house here but I can afford to buy one now. I brought my family here. Working here makes my life better. Chinese people taught us how to use machines. We learnt a lot from them," Vichit, who is now the supervisor of the company's mold department, told Xinhua.

Established in 2006, the industrial zone is one of the first Chinese overseas industrial sites. Now home to more than 180 Chinese-invested companies, mostly in the automobile, electronics and machinery sectors, the industrial zone has attracted more than 4.3 billion U.S. dollars in investment from China and provided more than 45,000 local jobs.

Zhao Bin, president of the Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Realty Development Co., operator of the industrial zone, said the industrial estate is expected to expand to hold 500 companies and create more than 100,000 local jobs.

Like Vichit, Natawut Lorboon is also one of those working in the industrial zone who live a better life now.

The man started his first job eight years ago in Dunan Metals (Thailand) Co., Ltd, a Chinese company producing refrigeration parts for air conditioner. "The sales of the company rises every year. I work hard and my efforts pay off as I'm promoted as the head of my department. Growing together with the company is cool," the engineer told Xinhua.

In Thailand, cities that are not tourism destinations outside Bangkok are mostly underdeveloped. Witnessing the change of the area around his company in recent years, Natawut said that investments from Chinese enterprises help boost the local economy, create jobs and alleviate poverty in the region.

"There were no shopping malls or shops here eight years ago. As it became part of the industrial estate with bunches of Chinese companies opening here, big malls, highways and other infrastructures spring up," he said, adding that "where there is industrial estate, there is prosperity."

The development of the industrial zone has been put on the fast track thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, Zhao said. "There is an increasing number of Chinese companies setting foot in the industrial zone despite the pandemic. More than 30 companies opened in the zone since 2021."

The building of infrastructure in the industrial zone is ongoing as an effort to better serve businesses investing in Thailand, Zhao said, adding that constructions including a manufacturing zone, a bonded zone, a logistics zone and a living zone are well-planned and on track in the estate.

He said the industrial zone also aims to facilitate in-depth cooperation between upstream and downstream industries along the industry chain.

"Take the automobile sector as an example, we have more than 10 tire companies in the estate, making up a mini industrial chain. Thanks to the strong industrial matching capacity, we've attracted a wide range of Chinese investors including new energy, automobile, new material, smart home appliance industries," said Zhao.

Leading Chinese enterprises in the communication and fibre optic sectors have also invested in the industrial estate, filling the void of local technology, he added.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has invited China to scale up its investment in Thailand, saying the country's East Economic Corridor is ready for investment by Chinese companies in sectors such as electronic cars and agro-industries.

China has remained Thailand's largest trading partner for nine consecutive years, and has been a major export market for Thailand's agricultural products. Bilateral trade volume surged 33 percent year on year to 131.18 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, according to data from China's General Administration of Customs.

While visiting Thailand in April 2022, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China supports Chinese enterprises in actively participating in the construction of key projects in Thailand.

Efforts should be made to give full play to the demonstration effect of the China-Thailand Rayong Industrial Park and explore conducting pilot and demonstration projects in Thailand with regard to initiatives, said Wang.