Grow your Business in Thailand: Event Review

Date: 18/07/2018

Grow your Business in Thailand Review

The Royal Thai Embassy in partnership with Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, KPMG, Eastern Economic Corridor Office, Chang Beer, UK-ASEAN Business Council alongside UK Export Finance held a Grow your Business in Thailand event yesterday in Manchester at KPMG’s offices.

The event was opened by Mr. Pisanu Suvanajata, Ambassador of Thailand to the UK and focussed on promoting investment in Thailand; describing it as the commercial hub of central Asia and a fertile ground for the development of new businesses. The Thai economy has been named the ‘happiest economy’ due to its worldwide trade links and financial attractiveness to large scale investors. In addition to this, its proximity to fast developing countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam gives Thailand a geographical advantage for international development.

Dr. Kanit Sangsubhan, Secretary General and Dr. Luxmon Attapich, Deputy Secretary General of the EECO presented the Eastern Economic Corridor’s development plan which lies at the heart of Thailand 4.0. The project is targeting ten key industries including agriculture and bio technology, food for the future, world-class tourism as well as robotics, automations and the medical/health industry. Additionally, the EEC is undertaking major infrastructure projects which will lead to the development of ‘smart cities’ in Thailand. These projects include the building of an ‘aerotropilis’ in U-Tapo which will be one of three major airports connected via the EEC’s high-speed rail links. Furthermore, by 2020, EEC is predicted to generate 5% GDP, 100,000 jobs per year, tax revenue of up to THB 100 billion per year and to lower logistics cost by THB 400 billion.

Subsequently, Mr. Steve Cowels, Export Finance Manager of UKEF presented ‘Financial services supporting British investment in EEC’. UK Export Finance has supported £15 billion worth of business over the last five years and works with over 70 commercial partners across a wide range of sectors. UKEF aids companies in winning export contracts, ensuring that UK exporters receive payment with export insurance and fulfil orders by supporting their working capital.  UKEF also recently announced that up to £4.5 billion of finance is available from UK Export Finance (UKEF) to help Thai buyers source from the UK. This represents an increase in finance available of £2.25 billion, which was announced by the UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Rt Hon. Dr Liam Fox MP, on a recent visit to Thailand, and demonstrates the significant potential the UK Government sees for increased trade with Thailand.

The session of presentation was concluded by a panel discussion with experts, including Dr. Kanit Sangsubhan, and Mr. Steve Cowels. The lively discussion, hosted by Greater Manchester Chamber CEO Clive Memmott, revolved around different themes orbiting the EEC—from the ease of doing business in Thailand, to the opportunities of the Thai, ASEAN and Asian markets. The debates were centered around the interests of and opportunities for UK businesses, and how they can reach Thai markets more easily.

The speakers insisted that these exporting opportunities are numerous. ASEAN is the sixth largest economy in the world, projected to become the fourth by 2050. The sheer size of the population should be enough to convince anyone of the importance of the market, according to Mr. Steve Cowels. This safety in trade affairs has been reinforced by numerous trade regulations put in place by the government. According to Dr. Sangsubhan, the Thai state has taken the necessary steps to protect foreign businesses, and it has never been easier to do business in the country. “Thailand 4.0 is leading the way for other countries”, said Mr. Steve Cowels.

An important advantage of the Thai market lies in its gateway aspect. By establishing a business in Thailand, firms open an easy access to every other ASEAN regional market and India, thanks to the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement. This aspect of Thailand is reinforced by the ease of doing business in the region, the speakers insisted, making it a perfect first market to access the South East Asian market at large. The discussion’s conclusion was given by GMCC CEO Clive Memmott: he strongly encouraged UK businesses to look into the region as a fantastic opportunity for exporting, and not to hesitate to contact helpful organisations such as local chambers of commerce or UK Export Finance to find guidance for their exporting enterprises.

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