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AustCham: Thailand ripe

By on Jun 09, 2012 in Property News

Australian companies must recognise the unlimited potential of conducting business in Thailand and that the country is the perfect place to launch into the Asian market, says the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce (AustCham Thailand).

John Anderson, AustCham’s president, said Australian companies too often overlook Thailand in a rush to invest in China.

“There is still a perception among Australians that Thailand is only a holiday destination, but they are blissfully unaware of the manufacturing capabilities here,” said Mr Anderson.

“Thailand is a more manageable, understandable investment destination than China is.”

AustCham Thailand, which has operated here for 35 years and comprises 420 businesses with Australian connections in industries ranging from tourism to manufacturing, recently released a study on Australian-Thai economics.

It found Thailand is ripe for Australian investment due to its strategic location, low labour costs, high consumer demand and solid infrastructure and would greatly benefit from improvements to the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (Tafta).

“Businesses Down Under are under extreme pressure to move offshore,” said Mark Carroll, AustCham’s executive director.

“We tell Australian businesses if you have to look offshore, there is no better place to look than Thailand.

“I think the PM’s recent visit did have an impact. She did a good job of highlighting business in Thailand, and Australian businesses listened.”

Foreign property ownership, bureaucracy, transparent businesses practices and work permits are obstacles facing Australian companies in Thailand and these should be addressed in a reformed Tafta.

“It would be fantastic if Tafta could be made similar to the Malaysian agreement,” said Mr Anderson.

“It would be a great gift to the business communities of both countries on the 60th year of diplomatic relations.”

He and Mr Carroll both admitted, however, that their biggest task is to inform Australian firms that Thailand is more than just beaches and bars.

“We know Thailand is a good holiday destination. We know that Thai cuisine is fantastic,” said Mr Carroll.

“What Australians do not know is how great Thailand is for business.”

Thailand is Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner, and HSBC economists predict Thai exports to there will grow more quickly in the next five years than to any other country except China.

Thai investment in Australia from 2010-11 was more than twice the size of Australian investment in Thailand.

The International Monetary Fund said Australian investment in Thailand totalled A$1.91 billion in 2010, while Thais invested almost A$5 billion in Australia.

That makes Thailand the second-biggest investor in Australia behind Japan.

Source : Bangkok Post 9 June 2012

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