By SUCHEERA PINIJPARAKARN
Even though Thailand has been plagued by political uncertainty, it remains one of the investment destinations for China, said Manop Sangiambut, SCB executive vice president and head of international banking.
“Chinese investors visit our office [in Beijing] asking about the situation in Thailand before making decisions,” he said, adding that some have chosen to wait and see how the situation pans out before putting their money into the Kingdom.
However, China’s “going out” policy and Chinese manufacturers looking to set up plants abroad to save operating costs will spur massive investment in Thailand and CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) because those countries have a large workforce with low wages, SCB believes.
China is the biggest foreign investor in Myanmar with total value of US$14.24 billion (Bt459 billion), followed by Thailand at $10.09 billion.
Given these facts, SCB is focusing more on building a strong presence in China and CLMV. It aims to upgrade its representative office in Beijing to a branch next year.
In the GMS, SCB owns a branch in Laos and a representative office in Myanmar. It has an affiliated bank called Cambodian Commercial Bank and an interest in Vinasiam Joint Venture Bank in Vietnam.
SCB executive chairman Vichit Suraphongchai has said the bank planned to restructure its status in Vietnam by putting more capital into the joint venture and mulled revamping its branches in Cambodia to make its footprint clearer in the region.
Manop said: “There are few financial activities at SCB’s International Business Unit, but we do believe our business will acquire a crucial role in the next few years from the influx of Chinese firms and the rising trade and investment activities from the Asean market integration by the end of 2015.”
The global economic recovery is an opportunity to boost international trade and foreign direct investment in CLMV. SCB will use its branches in Hong Kong and Singapore, which are well known as financial hubs, to facilitate business with global companies looking to establish a presence in CLMV, he added.