PARK LIFE

Thailand 2017 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Anantachai Kunanantakul, Chairman & CEO of Siam Eastern Industrial Park (SEP), on the development of the park, the benefits on offer, and plans to further develop the country's eastern seaboard.

Anantachai Kunanantakul
BIOGRAPHY
Anantachai Kunanantakul has an MBA from the Eastern Asia University and an honorary doctorate in management from Dhonburi Rajabhat University. He has been Chairman and CEO of Siam Eastern Industrial Park since 1992. He was a Member of the Senate from 2000 to 2006, and has served in a wide variety of public roles.

What was behind the creation of SEP and how has the company evolved since you established the industrial park in 1992?

To start at the beginning, with my industrial business background I recognized early on that Thailand had the potential to be the center of the region's growth, particularly in the industrial, logistics, and agricultural sectors. Looking broader, I saw that with our geographic location, there was potential to build an industrial park because we were near deep sea ports. We also have the opportunity to become a key hub across all of Asia. I have long worked in the industrial sector and have experience as the Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Samutprakarn Province, so with this background I established SEP to answer this growing potential. SEP is not the largest industrial park on the eastern seaboard, but from the very beginning we focused on providing an all-in-one service to our clients, from facilitating their manufacturing operations, aftersales services, and logistical support, to dealing with environmental issues, such as providing waste management and water supply solutions. Actually, on the last point, we have further developed our environmental management services by catering to our industrial park and beyond. However, with soaring demand in this area, and encouragement from the government to provide wastewater management in particular, we will be expanding this field at SEP and by next year hope to double our capacity to be able to serve more industries in Rayong and beyond. One final development to note about our core business line is that we are expanding SEP to our second phase; our new project is called Siam Green City. We are currently expanding our industrial park to a new location not far from our original base that sits on 320ha of land and will be able to accommodate new investors making use of the growing opportunities on Thailand's eastern seaboard.

What are some of the key incentives that investors can expect if they establish their operations in SEP?

There are many benefits, but the most important one is that our tenants are 100% exempt from corporate tax for a period of eight years, followed by 50% exemption for the next five years. This is the most important attraction for the foreign investor, but there are many others such as import tax breaks for machinery used for production of export products, and others that come with operating from a Zone 3 Board of Investment location, as we are at SEP. Aside from these tax benefits, our main pull factor lies in the full range of services that we offer. Not only do we provide the land and help our clients settle with all necessary logistical support, we provide consultation services, which are often crucial for companies investing in Thailand for the first time. Sometimes in many industrial parks there are labor relations problems; however, in our industrial park there have been no labor protests or demonstrations because of several mechanisms, like monthly HR club meetings; there are talks and there are very good relationships, so there are no hiccups in the operations of our tenants. We have some very reputable producers here at SEP, including Nippon Steel, Mitsubishi, and more. With a total of 37 factories in our first park, and over 40,000 workers here, it is important to make sure everything runs smoothly for all parties. Often in Thailand such industrial areas encounter labor concerns, or even protests, so we ensure that we regularly sit down with all parties and conduct HR consultations.

With the government prioritizing the development of Thailand's eastern seaboard as the country's key industrial hub, how will such developments impact the future growth of the company?

We see that the government is trying to improve and develop the eastern seaboard, and most importantly the infrastructure and logistics in the area, such as the new airport at U-Tapao and the deep sea port projects. We recognize that the government is serious about developing this region so we are establishing a new company, Siam Eastern Logistic Terminal, which will focus on developing our sea transportation with other countries as well as other regions. We are launching a new, breakthrough service called K-City; a sea port and high-speed ferry that will accommodate tourists, locals, and businesses in the region. We will connect three ports on the eastern, western and northern side of the Gulf of Thailand, a project which has never been done before and which will revolutionize travel and logistics in the region. Most importantly, it will cut transportation time and costs by between a half to two-thirds, which is crucial for investment in the region. Aside from this, we are growing and expanding in line with the government's plans, so the ongoing eastern seaboard development project will be extremely useful for the future growth of this country, and we are well positioned and excited to play an active role in this.