By Chaowarat Yongjiranon
With the rapid growth of Southeast Asian economies, Asean sees its trade with big brother China hitting US$500 billion by 2015, the same year that the Asean Economic Community takes centre stage.
Commerce between the region of emerging markets and China has grown steadily at 20 per cent per year, reaching $360 billion (Bt10.8 trillion) last year.
The importance of the relationship was highlighted at the Asian Financial Forum hosted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council in Hong Kong.
Business delegates said the main challenges lay in creating attractive investment environments with political stability. The key is to cultivate a niche market that will make each country different from the rest.
Vachara Phanchet, chairman of the Pacific Basin Economic Council, said Thailand already stood out from the rest as its trade with mainland China continued to be strong.
Thai businesses are investing in various Chinese industries such as real estate and automobiles.
“Thailand must focus on offering quality products that cater to Chinese consumers, as we can no longer rely on cheap labour,” he said.
The country also has to find a way to provide shiploads of products to China’s huge population efficiently.
Although the yuan will not likely be used as an exchange standard like the euro, traders still find convenience in trading with China’s currency, he added.