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HomepoliticsThai unrest casts doubt on investment expansions

Thai unrest casts doubt on investment expansions

Thailand's current political turmoil has yet to impact major foreign investors with operations outside Bangkok but some multinationals fear a worsening risk profile and indicate a reluctance to approve expansions and new projects.

The latest bout of unrest and associated fears of softer economic growth has shaken equity, credit and currency market sentiment, with global investors pulling nearly $4 billion out of local stocks and bonds since early November. Still, foreign-owned factories have been spared the worst of the disruption as they're located in industrial complexes in provinces outside the Thai capital.

(Read more: Thai protesters move to shut down Bangkok)

Japanese-owned auto and electronics plants in Thailand have the most to lose if the political turmoil escalates, according to Gavin Greenwood, a regional political analyst with Hong Kong-based security firm Allan & Associates.

Companies such as Pioneer, Honda Motor and Toyota Motor, are the "canary in the coal mine," Greenwood told CNBC's 'The Call'. "They are showing increasing hesitancy and concern at what's happening," he said. However, "they haven't done anything about it yet," he added "but Japanese investment rather than anyone else's is the thing to watch."

'Prolonged Turmoil'

An anti-government protester waves a flag during an occupation of the Finance ministry, Nov 25, 2013.Getty Images

The Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok said in a statement on Jan. 10 it was concerned about the prolonged political turmoil in Thailand, saying the country is on the verge of losing credibility in the eyes of foreign investors, according to a report in The Bangkok Post on last Saturday.

"We have significant concerns about the current prolonged turmoil during a transition period in the Thai economy," Susumu Uneno, president of JCC Bangkok, said in the statement. "Japanese companies have been working closely with Thailand for a long time towards economic development. We hope this situation is settled soon and stability is restored."

(Read more: Thai turmoil, India data take spotlight this week)

A total of 1,524 Japanese firms are registered as members of JCC Bangkok, which has operated for 60 years, The Post reported, adding Investment from Japan including from JCC Bangkok members accounts for 60 percent of foreign direct investment.


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