Thailand saw pledges by local and foreign investors jump 39% last year compared to the previous year, the country’s Board of Investment (BOI) announced on January 13.
Investment applications in the country reached Bt664.6bn (around $20bn), boosted by significant foreign direct investment (FDI) funnelled to key sectors including electronics, the electric vehicle (EV) supply chain and data centres.
The numbers came after a board meeting that also approved a new “coordination mechanism” to smooth the way for multinational companies to set up regional headquarters in Thailand.
The increase, which almost entirely zeroed in on Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor, came “in large part from global leaders, such as BYD Auto, Foxconn and Amazon Web Services,” said Narit Therdsteerasukdi, secretary general of the BOI, in a statement.
Chinese investors were the most active, topping the FDI rankings with 158 projects worth a combined Bt77.4bn. Japan investors placed second with 293 projects worth Bt50.8bn, followed by the US (33 projects worth around $1.52bn) and Taiwan (68 projects worth $1.37bn).
Chinese investors are also showing more interest in Southeast Asia, notably in the Philippines’ renewable energy sector. Nine companies, including state-owned China Energy Group, pledged $13.7bn to move into the country after regulations eased to allow for 100% foreign ownership in solar and wind projects.
Bayer shifts continents
One of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms is shifting away from Europe and the UK, citing the continent’s “innovation unfriendly” policies amid sector-wide concern about new taxes threatening profits.
German firm Bayer will focus on its US and Chinese businesses after an expanded medicines levy in the UK and similar schemes in Germany deterred investment, Stefan Oelrich, head of Bayer’s drugs business, told the Financial Times.
“Europe is making some real big mistakes,” he said, detailing how his firm would shift its commercial footprint away from Europe. “European governments are trying to create incentives for research investments, but they are making our lives miserable on the commercial side,” Oelrich added.
Several other multinationals have underlined their worries about European competitiveness. In October 2022, German chemicals giant BASF said it will have to “permanently” downsize in Europe due to higher energy prices.
Brazil confirms oil basin development
French energy multinational TotalEnergies has approved a $1bn new oil development in the Santos Basin, off the coast of Brazil — a stretch of coastline that is embroiled in a race to develop offshore wind farms.
The oil project, called Lapa South-West, is expected to start in 2025 and will increase production from the Lapa field by 25,000 barrels of oil per day, the company said in a January 16 statement.
TotalEnergies handles a 45% stake in the project, alongside Shell (30%) and Repsol Sinopec (25%). Lapa South-West will be developed via three wells, connected to the existing Lapa FPSO located 12km away.
David Mendelson, senior vice president of the Americas at TotalEnergies, called the project an “important milestone” for TotalEnergies in Brazil for increasing production in the pre-salt Santos Basin, a “key growth area” for the company.
Brazil’s former minister of mines and energy, Bento Albuquerque, told fDi in 2021 that investments into oil and gas should come in parallel with those into clean energy to meet demand. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who came into office at the beginning of 2023, has vowed to overhaul government policy on fossil fuels, renewable energy and the environment.