By WICHIT CHAITRONG
Citing 400 years of engagement between the countries, Elmar Bouma, executive director of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency for Southeast Asia, said there were vast opportunities for both sides to increase trade and investment,
He said the Netherlands’ economy was this year expected to grow 2 per cent, adding that this was a relatively high rate for a mature economy and the unemployment rate is low, at about 5.5 per cent. Moreover, Europe as a whole has recovered from the impact of the 2008-09 financial crisis. In particular, Germany, Spain and France were doing very well, said Bouma.
He said many companies in Thailand and elsewhere in Southeast Asia have competitive products and competitive prices. Many Thai exporters have successfully shipped products to the Netherlands and Europe but do not have offices in the region.
Bouma suggested that they should establish their own distribution centres there in order to increase their presence in the European market and to complete with other producers more effectively.
Potential Thai investors are in the food, chemical and automotive parts industries, said Bouma. The Netherlands is an entry point to Europe, with about 30-40 per cent of Thai exports to the continent going via the strategically located country.
Bouma pointed to the country’s good transport system and its short lead time for the distribution of goods to the region’s large economies, such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Rotterdam’s port is the largest in Europe.
Thai companies should not only export products to Europe but should stay close to the 244 million customers within 1,000 kilometres from Netherlands in order to keep up with rapidly changing consumer trends, Bouma said.
“Such a move would enable companies to catch up with these fast-changing demands, as today’s customers demand faster delivery of |the goods they want,” he said.
Ghayapad Tantipipatpong, chairwoman of the Thai National Shippers' Council, said food producers that do business in Thailand but cannot export their products should consider setting up production facilities in Europe.
Currently, Thailand cannot export pork and beef to global markets due to strict import regulations or trade barriers.
Among the 50 Thai companies that have established businesses in the Netherlands , Bangkok Ranch, a leading duck meat producer, has been successful in doing business there as well as Indorama Ventures, a global leader in PET production.
Jitendraa Agrawaal, vice president of Indorama, said his company had just increased PET production in Europe, after an expansion of investment to meet growing demand for its products.
The Netherlands-Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency yesterday hosted a seminar entitled “Export Logistics Europe” under a drive for more Thai investors to invest in the country.