22 Sep 2023, 11:49

New Thai PM meets Musk, US tech chiefs in investment push

BANGKOK, Sept 22, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Thailand's new prime minister has met
Tesla boss Elon Musk and executives from other US tech and investment firms
including Google and Microsoft as he seeks to boost the country's flagging

Srettha Thavisin, a former property mogul who took office last month, has
pledged to pep up the kingdom's financial fortunes, which were hit hard by
the halt to tourism during the pandemic.

He met Musk on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, where he
stressed Thailand's commitment to sustainable development goals.

"We had a good conversation on @Tesla , @spaceX , and @starlink technology,"
Srettha posted on X, formerly Twitter, early Friday.

"We look forward to further discussions."

Thailand is one of Southeast Asia's leading car producers, and is looking to
transition production to electric vehicles.

Traditionally much of the output has been dominated by Japanese
manufacturers, but Chinese EV makers are moving in.

Srettha also posted photos from meetings with Google and Microsoft
executives, and the CEO of investment house BlackRock, Larry Fink.

"The meeting aimed at possible investment in Thailand, in particular in
support of clean energy-related enterprises' investment expansion and
production in Thailand," Srettha wrote of his encounter with Fink.

Forecasts for Thai growth for this year range from 2.5-3.5 percent, but
Srettha is aiming to boost this to five percent in the coming years after a
period of stagnation during nearly a decade of military-backed government.

His tech exec charm offensive comes as other countries in the region look to
cash in on US investments in clean technology -- and Washington's desire to
diversify away from overdependence on China for key components and resources.

Last week Vietnam signed a deal with Washington that included agreements on
rare earth minerals and superconductors, aimed at helping the communist state
step up its role in the high-tech supply chain.

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