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HK steps up trade  initiatives to boost ties with Thailand 

Mar 25. 2019
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By The Nation

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The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is continuing its initiatives to strengthen the economic relations between Thailand and Hong Kong with the founding of InnoSpace Thailand, Thai Access to International Markets Competition, and SME Idol – incubating projects for SMEs that profit from The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Development Plan.

This is  the expansion of Hong Kong’s multilifestyle product brand, Design Gallery Studio (DG Studio), to Thailand.

 The establishment of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in February 2019 marked an important milestone between Thailand and Hong Kong economic relations. Based on the remark of Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, the office has opened a wide array of opportunities. For “Thailand Investment Year 2019”, the Board of Investment reported Hong Kong’s recognition of Thailand as a primary investment hub in the CLMVT and Asean regions while Hong Kong will be the gateway to the Greater Bay Area (GBA). 

In 2018, a total of 44 projects worth Bt20.3 billion originated from Hong Kong investors, up from 41 projects worth Bt7.15 billion in 2017.

 Working hand in hand with HKETO, Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is an important organisation dedicated to promoting two-way trade between the two regions which benefited numerous Thai and Hong Kong companies , particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

 Sunny Chau, HKTDC ‘s Director of Thailand and South Asia, said, “Since the establishment of our regional headquarters in Bangkok, HKTDC has brought more than 8,000 Thai businesspeople to Hong Kong every year, reflecting our motto ‘Your Business, Our Mission’. 

An example of success was the SME Idol project where 20 Thai SMEs landed nearly 100 orders at the HKTDC Houseware Fair. HKTDC also bring Hong Kong companies to Thailand. Recently, we matched the Thai Ministry of Industry with Hong Kong Cyberport, leading to the founding of the Bt500 million InnoSpace Thailand. On the lifestyle front, we brought Hong Kong Asia Distribution (HKAD) to establish a multi-lifestyle product brand, DG Studio, in Thailand.” 

 Apart from various activities facilitated by HKTDC, such as international exhibitions, conferences, business missions, and research database, collaborative projects are key to a sustainable growth for Thai SMEs as listed below: 

 

InnoSpace Thailand: a Bt500-million public-private venture with funds from PTT, Siam Cement Group, Charoen Pokphand Group, Thai Beverage, and Bangkok Bank. In collaboration with the Hong Kong Cyberport, both sides utilise strategic access to Asean market in Thailand, venture capital network in Hong Kong, talents and experiences of Hong Kong Cyberport project to groom start-ups from both regions. The project is located in the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) in Rayong Province.

 

Thai Access to International Markets: Active since 2014, the joint project with Thailand’s Office of SMEs Promotion provides Thai designers an O2O platform to sell their products to over 50,000 international buyers. Short-listed designers, having won votes on Facebook, can sell their products at ZEN Department Store at CentralWorld, share experience at the Creative Economy Agency (CEA), and ultimately win a Cathay Pacific air ticket to DesignInspire in Hong Kong to interact with top designers from around the world.

 SME Idol: Being held for the 2nd consecutive year, the project is a collaboration with Thailand’s Office of SMEs Promotion, SME Development Bank, and Community Development Department. It aims to coach SMEs on e-commerce, international sales contract, logistics, negotiation and sales in the China market as well as trade fair preparation. Target businesses are home decor, spa, scented and household products.

 Eyeing Thailand as a tourism hub and a potential market for mass products, HKTDC worked with HKAD to launch a multi-lifestyle product brand with 100 per cent Hong Kong design, DG Studio, in Thailand in 2016 during the In Style Hong Kong event, held to celebrate the first anniversary of the Asean Economic Community (AEC). 

DG Studio promotes Hong Kong design products, opening up distribution channels for Hong Kong products in Thailand and the region.

 Michael Li Chi Fung, Managing Director, Hong Kong Asia Distribution Co Ltd (HKAD), said HKAD achieved 1,000 per cent sales growth within three years since its opening. Its product range began with gifts and mid-priced goods before expandingf to newer and more innovative products such as watches and action figures. Thais are the most stylish group of consumers in the Asean market, he said. 

“We found that the key drivers for Thai consumers’ decisions are design and quality, with prices a lower priority. HKAD complements Thai retailers by offering value-added services such as product display, marketing, and events which resulted in significant sales growth in Thailand,” Fung said.

 “Going forward, we hope to build a vibrant start-up ecosystem through the InnoSpace Thailand platform as well as bringing smart manufacturing to Thailand to be in line with the Thailand 4.0 aspiration. HKTDC hopes to serve more Thai companies in the future,” Sunny Chau concluded.

 

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