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Japan is set to collaborate with Thailand in building up the Kingdom as a manufacturing hub for pickup trucks, hybrids and electric vehicles, the Bangkok Post reports.

The partnership was hatched following Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s visit to Japan earlier this year. After his visit, General Prayut authorised the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) to work closely on joint development with the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) office in Bangkok. Both parties have since organised seven meetings with Japanese companies in Thailand.

Progress has now been made beyond talks – a record of discussions (RD) was signed earlier this week between the NESDB and the Science and Technology Ministry with Jetro. The NESDB is set to propose the details of the RD to a meeting of the National Innovation Development Committee, which is chaired by General Prayut.

According to NESDB’s secretary-general, Arkhom Termpitayapaisith, Japanese companies are willing to promote Thailand as a production hub for one-tonne pickup trucks, hybrids and electric cars if the Thai government was willing to waive import tariffs and excise tax on imported car prototypes and auto parts that had yet to be made in Thailand, the report said.

He added that Japanese firms also suggested that Thailand begin development of automotive testing centres for crash, high-speed, wind-tunnel, durability and emissions tests. Executives of Japanese firms with regional headquarters in Singapore have reportedly given their full support for the joint development. Currently, Japan is the top foreign investor in Thailand – its investment in the first-half of 2015 amounted to 87.8 billion baht (RM10.5 billion)