(Corrects year in headline to 2018, not 2019)
BANGKOK, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Investment applications in Thailand reached a total of 902 billion baht ($28.2 billion) worth of projects in 2018, 43 percent higher than requests the previous year and beating a target of 720 billion baht, the state investment agency said on Wednesday.
Thai and foreign firms submitted a total of 1,626 projects in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, the agency said in a statement.
Of the total applications, 680 billion baht worth of investment was in the Eastern Economic Corridor, a centrepiece of the junta’s policy to boost growth and target investment into hi-tech industries such as robotics, electric vehicles and aviation, as Thailand transitions from those dependent on cheap labour.
The Board of Investment targets 750 billion baht of investment pledges in 2019, slightly higher than last year due to uncertain global economic conditions, deputy prime minister, Somkid Jatusripitak, told reporters.
Higher expectations for investments is partly driven by companies shifting production and supply chains out of China to Southeast Asia, as risks and fears of trade war mount, with countries such as Thailand and Vietnam being the preferred destinations.
$1 = 32.0300 baht Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon, Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng Editing by Jacqueline Wong