A huge amount of petrochemical capacity – some $12bn worth – is being built in Thailand, way in excess of the quantity added before the Asian financial crisis.
This is all predicated on Thailand becoming a manufacturing hub for Southeast Asia with, for example, huge ambitions to grow auto production.
But can Thailand attract the FDI it needs for this industrial growth, given lack of confidence in the government? If it fails to attract this FDI, then most of its new petrochemical capacity could end up flooding overseas markets, just as in 1997-98.
The latest blow to the credibility of the government is the potential collapse of a Thai-Japan Free Trade Agreement due to pressure from environmentalists.