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The future is now: Thailand takes steps to encourage robotics

Robots are a thing of the future, but the future is now, as the saying goes. Thailand is taking more steps to ensure that future will dawn for the first time in Southeast Asia across the Kingdom: aiming to bolster investment in robotics, Bangkok plans to reduce import tariffs on robotics parts. The incentive came from companies like led by PTT Plc and Siam Cement Group Plc (SCG), with extended interest in robotics.

“PTT and SCG as well as other robot-related companies are interested in investing in the robotics sector, which is one of the government’s targeted industries. They asked for a tariff cut on some categories of parts that cannot be produced locally and are quite expensive to import. So, we expect the tariff cut should help speed up investment in the sector,” said Kanit Sangsubhan, chairman of the Finance Ministry’s private investment promotion committee.

PTT Plc, Thailand’s national oil and gas company, aims to create its own robots to be used in inspections of oil and gas pipelines and was keen to import robotic parts to help the process.

robot1The Government’s strategy is well thought: if everything goes about as planned, Thailand might become one of the leading countries in Asia when it comes to robotics. According to the Board of Investment, investment applications in the robotics industry currently cover five projects worth 282 million baht. The main idea is importing parts, not fully developed robots, because this would start up Thailand’s home industry as well.

“The government wants to promote the robotics industry to help it grow like the automotive industry, [with Thailand] ultimately becoming the robotics hub of Asean,” said Somchai Hanhiran, the Industry Ministry’s permanent secretary.

According to Mr. Somchai Hanhiran, robotics is one of the main Thai development axis, under the umbrella of Thailand’s so-called “4.0” future development. So far it seems to be a bright future, with at least eight robotics companies from the European Union and Japan investing in Thailand, most of them to be found at the Hemaraj Chonburi Industrial Estate.

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