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[ 2015-01-27 ]

Thailand's investment applications nearly double in 2014

BANGKOK Jan 26 (Reuters) - Thailand's investment agency said on Monday total investment applications submitted to the country nearly doubled in 2014 as investors rushed to submit their proposals in December.

Foreign and Thai firms submitted investment applications worth a combined 2.19 trillion baht ($67.2 billion) in 2014, with nearly two-thirds applying in December alone.

"Most investors are planning to invest or expand their investment in the future so they have sped up their investment application more quickly in order to receive the benefits from the previous policies," Hirunya Suchinai, secretary general of the Board of Investment said in a statement.

In the early months of 2014, interest in Thai investment had been hit by months of political turmoil.

The army took power in a coup in May, saying it had to step in to restore order and business confidence. It has accelerated the process of project approvals in a bid to boost private investment, which remain sluggish.

The BOI announced its latest policies for this year on Dec. 15.

Under the new strategy, the agency replaced the previous policy by gearing its incentives to more value-added sectors and provided special offers to those investing in the government's special economic zones and designated provinces throughout Thailand.

Among them will be tax exemption of up to 8 years, and exemption of import duty on machinery or raw materials for industries that focus on areas such as research and development, electronics designs, aircraft manufacturing and aircraft parts.

The BOI said 3,469 project applications were recorded in 2014 versus 2,237 in 2013. Project applications in December last year totalled 2,092, the highest monthly applications in 2014.

Most of the investment applications made in 2014 were from the service and public utilities sector that made up 37 percent of the total applications submitted to the country at 822 billion baht.

The other sectors are chemical products, papers, plastic sectors that submitted a total of 430 billion baht.

($1 = 32.5800 baht) (Reporting by Pairat Temphairojana; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)