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

Bangkok, Sept 22 (AFP) Sep 22, 2023
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 economy.

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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