In Rayong province, an important industrial base about 100 kilometers southeast of Bangkok, capital of Thailand, sits the Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Zone (Rayong Industrial Zone) where now row upon row of office buildings, factories and warehouses stand.
Co-developed by China's Holley Group and Amata Group in Thailand in 2006, Rayong Industrial Zone, one of the first batch of economic and trade cooperation zones sponsored by China abroad, has attracted a host of Chinese enterprises engaging in PV, auto parts, building materials, etc. to settle down there.
STRONGLY BOOSTING DEVELOPMENT OF THAILAND'S INDUSTRIAL SYSTEM
In a bid to realize its innovation-driven 4.0 strategy, the Thai government has proposed in recent years the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) strategy. Specifically, the strategy blueprints building special economic zones in coastal areas of southeast Thailand, and attracting investment by improving infrastructure and adopting an array of preferential policies thereby to develop high value-added emerging industries.
In many aspects, Thailand's EEC highly aligns with China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). As the BRI has promoted interconnection of infrastructure, logistics and other fields among countries and regions along the Belt and Road routes, it will further empower Thailand to advance economy after aligning with the EEC, noted Somkid Jatusripitak, deputy prime minister of Thailand.
"The synergy between the development initiatives of China and Thailand has pushed Rayong Industrial Zone onto a fast development track," said Xu Genluo, director of Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Realty Development Co., Ltd.
In the past five years, nearly 60 new enterprises have settled down in the zone, generating 9 billion U.S. dollars worth of industrial output in total, which accounts for approximately 75 percent of the total output value in the past decade, added Xu.
Currently, the zone has become the largest industrial cluster center and manufacturing export base built by Chinese companies in Thailand and even ASEAN, which to great extent has promoted development of the Thailand economy.
According to Amata Corporation PCL's chief investment officer (CIO), the Rayong Industrial Zone has expedited local infrastructure construction, and boosted the prosperity of real estate investment and tourism among other industries across Thailand.
What's more, the introduction of Chinese enterprises specializing in new technologies and materials has strongly endorsed the development and improvement of Thailand's industrial system, says the CIO.
INJECTING GREAT IMPETUS INTO LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Futong Group Communication Technology (Thailand) Co., Ltd., one of enterprises settling down in the zone, has become a major optical fiber and cable supplier for Thai communication operators. "We are willing to stay in Rayong Industrial Zone in the future for we are guaranteed with satisfactory salaries and promising career here,” said Phlsan (literal translation), director of manufacturing division of the Futong company in Thailand.
“For me, I have learned a lot of knowledge and skills from my Chinese colleagues. I have greatly improved my working competence under their assistance, and have been appointed a supervisor. And I'm hopeful about my future, " the director added.
Years ago, most villagers neighboring the zone couldn't afford a motorcycle. However, after they found jobs in the zone, they have now made money and built new houses, making their villages take on a new look, added Phlsan.
According to the aforementioned Futong's deputy general manager Zha Zhengjun, the company attaches importance to staff's skill training, and plans to promote more local staff to the management. The company has 180 Thai staff, close to 90 percent of its payroll. The proportion is projected to rise to 95 percent in the coming years. "Thanks to our Thai staff's promotion, we have seen a growing number of locals applying jobs, and we are enjoying a pretty harmonious working atmosphere," Zha added.
Zhongce Rubber (Thailand) Co., Ltd., one of the largest enterprises in the zone, has hired 3,700 employees. The number is expected to reach 4,000 this year. Nadavey (literal translation), director of management division of the company, comes from a village in Songkhla, one of the southern provinces. After working in the zone, she has been promoted from a frontline staff to a director, and has bought her house and car. "We are very happy here," she said.
Rayong Industrial Zone has by now more than 30,000 Thai employees, accounting for 90 percent of the total. It is expected to accommodate 300 companies and will create 100,000 jobs in Thailand. "Rayong Industrial Zone has effectively promoted local employment and generated a huge sum of foreign exchanges, injecting great impetus into local social and economic development," said Vikrom Kromadit, CEO of Amata Group.
PLAYING A KEY ROLE IN ADVANCING SINO-THAI ECONOMIC & TRADE COOPERATION
Rayong Industrial Zone has not only boosted local economy and created a large number of jobs for local people, but also contributed to deeper friendship between Chinese and Thai people. "A bumper pineapple harvest in Thailand last year leads to a sharp price decline to 5 Thai baht (about 1 yuan) for one fruit and poor sales. To solve the villagers' urgent needs, the zone organized its enterprises to purchase unsalable pineapples. Our villagers said that Chinese people are just like their families," said Nadavey.
In addition, Zhongce Rubber (Thailand) also sends staff to visit left-behind or disabled children and patients from time to time. Each month, Futong holds a birthday party for its employees, and posts the name list on the bulletin board in the dining hall. Phuan-phana (literal translation), field director of manufacturing division of Futong said, "Celebrating birthday for my fellows warms my heart. Our company also arranges various activities to celebrate significant festivals like the Chinese Lunar New Year and Songkran, traditional Thai New Year's day."
When talking about Rayong Industrial Zone, Wissanu Krea-ngam, deputy prime minister of Thailand, noted that the zone plays a key role in advancing the economic and trade cooperation between Thailand and China and the friendship between their people, and made a huge contribution to Thailand's economic advancement. As an increasing number of Chinese enterprises settle down in Thailand, the country will embrace more sound industrial structure and higher quality economic development.