By ACHARA DEBOONME
Another office will be opened in Hanoi next year and another in Jakarta in 2018.
“Asean is attractive with its abundance of resources and quality workforce, offering cost competitiveness and fast-growing markets and economies,” said Chokedee Kaewsang, deputy secretary-general of the investment-promoting agency. “Meanwhile, all countries, especially CLMV [Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam] have been more open to |foreign investment,” he said in an e-mailed interview.
Thailand’s direct investment in more than 35 countries in 2015 topped Bt174.3 billion, and Bt21.3 billion or 12.2 per cent went to Asean, according to Bank of Thailand data. That was down from 47.69 per cent in 2014. In the first nine months of the year, however, investment in Asean reached Bt197.7 billion, or 55.33 per cent of the total.
In their quest for overseas footings, Thai investors also put special attention to Asean.
At its overseas offices, the BOI aims to provide in-depth information on that particular market’s economic status, investment policies, opportunities, rules and regulations, and business culture. For Myanmar in particular, the BOI has organised business trips and consulting clinics.
“Myanmar is among the top investment destinations in Asean, thanks to its high economic growth rate, fast-growing domestic market, and competitive edges in natural resources and labour and a supportive border transport network. Importantly, internal demand is growing briskly, a positive for Thai companies,” Chokedee said.
Of the Bt197.7 billion invested in Asean in the first nine months of this year, nearly Bt14 billion went to Myanmar.
According to the BOI, under training by its Thai Overseas Investment Services Centre launched in 2011, most of the participating businesspeople who actually put money overseas picked Vietnam or Myanmar as their investment destination. The areas of interest are textiles and agricultural processing.
A total of 409 businesspeople have participated in the training scheme since it was initiated and 88 have materialised investment plans.
Chokedee said the BOI was also tasked to promote Thai investment elsewhere, such as the other three CLMV countries, other destinations in Asean, and new markets including Uganda, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Mozambique and Uzbekistan.
“We plan 22 business trips throughout 2017 to CLMV, new markets and South Asia – Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. CLMV will be the primary focus thanks to its high growth potential and [the fact that] it appeals to most Thai investors in the textile, services and food-processing industries,” he said.