Interview with Asia Business Channel
2 September 2010 14.30-15.30
At the Royal Thai Embassy
Q: why do you think that investors or individual fr om Asia Business Channel should be interested in Thailand?
A: Well, first of all, location. Second, work force, we have lots of professional skilled and semi-skilled labors, the wage rate in Thailand is still low, compared to other advanced developing countries in the region. Third, we have big markets. As a result of the FTA Agreement we have with numbers of countries, our market includes not only inside Thailand, but also expands to other ASEAN countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, etc. These are fundamentals for the investment. Apart fr om that, there are also incentives, I would say, Tax incentive and non-tax incentive, like in many other countries. We divide into zonings, sectors, if you fulfill particular requirement, you get the most of the tax holidays. Moreover, we also have a number of offers. For instance, we don’t have the local content requirement; we do not have the restriction on land ownership. And if you gain profit, we do not restrict or limit you profit to go back to your home countries. In brief, we are really open for investors to come.
Q: how do you think that Thailand can differentiate itself from neighborhood countries, like Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia?
A: One prominent thing is that we have open economy, with those strong fundamentals I mentioned before, i.e. workforce, education, and technology. All those things make us different from our neighborhood countries in the region. The attitude of people is also another thing. If you look at our people, you will see our friendly nature. We, Thais, are all peace-loving and warm-hearted.
Q: what about the image, when we are making SWOT analysis—strength, weakness, opportunities and threat, can you tell me a bit more about what you think is the threat or weakness you are dealing with during 2010?
A: The only thing and perhaps the last thing coming up to my mind would be the political situation. People still have some wonders in their mind if we can have a stable and strong political situation. Who comes to govern the country does not matter, what really matters should be that we have the strong peace because that will cause very positive effects on every aspect.
Q: During my research, I saw that China did an investment around 5-13 millions in banking in Thailand, Could you tell me more about this issue?
A: On Banking, the cooperation between ICBC Bank and Thai bank has been started since July this year. We just signed the contract last month. It has been completed already.
Q: In overall, what kind of investors is Thailand looking for?
A: Now it’s more on Energy, especially substitute energy, including electricity, solar energy. Actually what we really need is the investment that would bring about the great impact to country and people as a whole. If you talk about the investment on human like public health, that would be most welcomed. If you talk about education, that would be most welcomed too. If you talk about environment, that would be another sector that we also welcome. After that, let it up to the investors when looking at its return.
Q: Concerning the sectors, what are the sectors that need more attention?
A: I think science and technology are the sectors that would need more attention. That’s the base of building up the future, everyone should think about it. Let’s think about it, when you talk about communication, industries, telecommunication, transport and agriculture, they all need science and technology. We need to have our own brand, our own research and development. Thus, I think science and technology would be the area that we should pay more attention.
Q: Explain a little bit what are you doing here to advance Thailand interest in China?
I have read Thailand is a member of ASEAN countries, and recently China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) has been fully established, do you think this is an advantage? Can you talk a little bit about CAFTA and the relationship between China and ASEAN?
A: Well, it covers not only goods like the vegetables and fruits, but also services and investments. It means that you can transport the goods, both final goods and intermediate goods, from one point to another without worrying about the customs. Apart from exchange of goods and services, it also brings the opportunities of personnel exchange. Thanks to the CAFTA establishment, the import-export amounts between China and ASEAN countries increase more than 30 percents in the past 6 months. For Thailand, now China is the biggest market in terms of export. We knew, we tried, all sides, to make the best out of this agreement. In short, this agreement has caused a very positive effect. Of course, some people might complain that now we have a strong rival. But for me, I see only “competitor”. By using the word “competitor”, it means you have to compete, it means you have to improve yourself. If you fail, you should change to do something else that suits you more. Moreover, after the investors gain the profit, they can deliver to their home country without customs duty. So all I know, that has been good.
Q: What is the work you are doing here to advance Thailand’s interest in China and to make the link between Thailand and China?
A: Generally speaking, our work has a lot to do with promotion and following up. For the agreement we have with China, we want them to undertaken effectively. We have the professionals dealing with particular issues. For example, we have our officials from Board of Investment to deal with investment sector; we have officials from Ministry of Commerce to deal with trade; and officers from Ministry of Agriculture to take care of agricultural issues. Regarding investment, they held the seminars with the potential investors in many areas. For trade issues, we push forward numbers of trade promotions in Beijing and in many other provinces. At the present, we gain a great support from Chinese government, China has abundant capitals to invest abroad, Asia, Africa and countries nearby seem to be its targets. As a matter of fact, not only in banking industry that China has invested in Thailand, but China has also invested 5 billions dollars in Energy sector. These are all because the promotion we have made. In addition, we held the road show activities; we hopped around to join exhibitions here and there, just to make sure we avail ourselves of every opportunity coming our way. In Shanghai Expo, we have been promoting Thai fruits almost every weekend by distributing Thai fruit samples to people who visit Thailand Pavilion, and we will continue doing so until the end of October when the Expo ends. By doing this, people in Shanghai and from outside Shanghai will be more familiar to Thai fruits. We have worked together to put Thailand into spotlight.
Q: How about Thai Festival?
A: We organized Thai Festival not only in Beijing, but also in other cities like Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Chengdu. It started from Thai Food Festival, later many other things have been put on the shelf, along comes the name Thai Festival. Normally, the festival last 3 days at least, maybe 5 days, maybe a week. In the event, you will see booths of restaurant displaying Thai food samples, and many other booths displaying Thai products like Thai cuisine, spa products, handicrafts, consumer products, even the parts of automobile. Saying about automobile, we have automobile factories in Thailand. We even claim ourselves Detroit in Asia. We are the biggest manufacturer for pick-up truck production, and we are number one pick-up truck exporter. And yes, we have them in our festival. Furthermore, we have Thai traditional performances, folk dances for the audience. We, at the same time, promote the tourism package, different packages for satisfying people of all kinds. And that are parts of Thai Festival.