Institutional investors that met in Brussels for the executive discussion forum of the Thai-European Business Association (TEBA) came to the conclusion that the Thai economy and its business climate has recovered, and has opportunities for the Eurozone’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with regards to trade and investment. The European Union is Thailand’s second largest investor and third largest trade partner.
Speakers from multinational corporations such as Michelin and GlaxoSmithKline said that Thailand is set to recover with its new cabinet and Prime Minister, after the previous Yingluck Shinawatra administration was toppled in a bloodless coup.
Investors were upbeat on Thailand’s economic reform, infrastructure development programs, plans to strengthen its role as an international trade hub for Southeast Asia, and preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. They also noted that within a week of his appointment, Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha met with global businesses and investors in Thailand, reassuring them that Thailand is committed to long-term economic growth.
Industries that are expected to achieve high growth by those attending the meeting include the aerospace, automotive, medical equipment, and pharmaceutical industries.
Dr. Thavirap Tantiwongse, an executive of GlaxoSmithKline, believes that there is a “golden opportunity” in Thailand’s health care industry. “But this needs to be done in a partnership. It is time to stop simply looking at each other’s market potential and look instead at the synergies and collaboration that can be forged”, said Tantiwongse.
Volkswagen recently announced plans to invest 1 billion Euros in a factory that will manufacture fuel-efficient vehicles. The plant could produce 300,000 cars per year by 2019 and strengthen not only Thailand’s economy, but that of the entire region as some parts will be produced in other ASEAN countries.
According to Ulrich Kaiser, president of TEBA, this factory will provide “huge opportunities” for local suppliers of car parts. “They will be bringing a whole new range of technologies to Thailand”, explained Kaiser. “There will be a great deal of know-how transfer”.
Kaiser said that he expected cooperation between Thailand and the EU to increase “by a factor of ten” over the next five years.
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