A Leading ASEAN Nation
On 8 August 2012, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will celebrate forty five years. The ‘ASEAN Declaration’, signed in the Thai capital, aims to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region. A single regional common market of the ten ASEAN countries will be created by 2015 (ASEAN Economic Community). Thailand is well positioned to build on its economic strengths as a leading industrialized nation while further developing its close ties with China.
‘Thai companies are recognizing that they must compete on quality rather than price,’ says Ms. Amparwon Pichalai, Director of Trade Information Resources and E-Business at the Royal Thai Government’s Department of International Trade Promotion. ‘There is recognition that we must compete internationally and Thailand is taking the necessary steps to ensure we remain a competitive place to do business. As a country, we enjoy strong cultural and historical ties to China and we are committed to working closely with our Chinese counterparts. Thailand’s geographical location also makes us a strategic land transportation corridor from China to the rest of Asia Pacific’.
Thailand’s major industries include electric appliances, components, computer parts and cars and the country’s export-driven economy ranks as the second largest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Exports include rice, textiles and footwear, fishery products, rubber, cars, computers and electrical appliances. As the economy grows, the Thai government is taking steps to ensure it is easier for companies to operate as the country continues its efforts to become more ‘Business-friendly’;
‘Thailand is learning from Hong Kong regarding the implementation of anti-corruption measures’, says Mr. Andrew Wong, President of the Thai-Hong Kong Trade Association. ‘Last year, the Thai government invited the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption to deliver a talk on how to combat corruption in Bangkok. Increasingly, Thai businessmen are entering the Chinese market through Hong Kong as their partners and advisors in there are able to point them in the right direction’.
Mr. Bernard Chan, Chairman of the Hong Kong-Thailand Business Council is confident that the Sino-Thai relationship will remain a catalyst for future growth throughout the region;
‘Obviously last year’s floods affected a lot of business between Thailand and Hong Kong and the rest of Greater China. But the overall trend is very positive, with the previous five years showing bilateral trade between the two economies averaging at nearly ten percent growth per year. Thailand is currently Hong Kong’s twelfth largest export market and tenth largest source of imports. The two countries trade relationship dates back over a century to when Thailand first started supplying rice to Hong Kong. Looking to the future, the business communities in Hong Kong and Thailand are looking forward to the continued expansion of trade and investment opportunities. Thailand has already signed free-trade agreements with a number of countries throughout the region and while it may be a while before ASEAN nations become fully open, there are good signs that tariffs between ASEAN and China will continue to be reduced. This region is still emerging and many countries still have lower or middle-income populations. However, business between Hong Kong and Thailand represents a classic example of where the opportunities are for growth’.