After natural gas was discovered in the Gulf of Siam in 1973, Thailand, which previously had no known oil resources, began a process of industrialization based on energy self-sufficiency. The eastern seaboard, comprised of Chachoengsao, Chonburi and Rayong provinces, because of its proximity to Bangkok and suitability for the development of a deep-sea port figured prominently in the eyes of development planners. Against this background, the Thai government made the development of the region one of the priority issues in the Fifth National Economic and Social Development Plan (1982-1986) and created the Eastern Seaboard Development Committee with the Prime Minister serving as chairman to aid in its development.
The key initiatives of the Eastern Seaboard Development Plan include the construction of the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate, which focuses on the development of heavy chemical industries; the construction of the Laemchabang Industrial Estate, as a location for non-polluting export-oriented industry: and the establishment of a related infrastructure to support the initiatives. The Japanese Government expressed positive support for the plan and through the Japan International Cooperation Agency has actively supported it since the 1980s.
With the dramatic appreciation of the Japanese Yen, a result of an international agreement to depreciate the US Dollar in relation to the Japanese Yen and German Deutsche Mark in 1985, Japanese manufacturers began to look for alternative plant sites abroad and found Thailand and Malaysia were the most suitable among developing countries in Asia.
A wave of direct investment from Japan became visible towards the end of 1986. Thailand’s Board of Investment announced that Japanese investment had increased in the first half of the year by 50 percent. Stimulated by this movement, investors from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea also begin to sharply increase their direct investment in Thailand.
In 1987, Taiwanese officials asked Mr. Vikrom Kromadit, then President of the trade team of Thai Alumni at National Taiwan University (from which he graduated), to help find sites for building factories. Khun Vikrom, subsequently the founder of Amata and a man who often asserts, “Nothing is impossible and dreams cost nothing,” recognized that there might be business opportunities in developing sites for new factories. In 1988, he purchased 750 rai (120 acres) for US$4.7 million in an area strategically located between Bangkok and the new Laem Chabang deep sea port and adjacent to the main road connecting Bangkok with Chonburi.
This was the beginning of Amata, then named ‘Bangpakong Industrial Park'. Over the next five years, some 50 Japanese companies, including Asahi Glass, Hitachi and Mitsubishi, signed up and Bangpakong Industrial Park was renamed as Amata Corporation PCL in 1989. The industrial park is now called Amata Nakorn, Chonburi In 1994, Amata City in Bien Hoa, near Ho Chi Minh City, was established, offering a choice for companies wanting lower labor costs. Soon after, in 1995, Amata expanded into another Thai site, Amata City in Rayong Province, where customers could take advantage of higher tax breaks aimed at boosting investment outside the capital. And in 1997, Amata entered a new period in its history when it was successfully listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
Amata - Sharing for Growth (Slide show, produced in March 2012)
From the Past, the Present and the Future