By KHINE KYAW
ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Kitsana Vachekrilas, treasurer of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) and managing director of Bua Thong Thani Management Co, said in an exclusive interview that all the Thai participants were satisfied with their business trip, as they expected to find partners to help them distribute their products in Myanmar.
The TCC had selected companies with the greatest potential and the best products that were possible to develop in Myanmar among the 120 firms that applied to join the mission.
Most of the selected SMEs represented the most promising lines of business for trade – consumer goods, construction materials, cosmetics and beauty accessories. They had already achieved success in Thailand and wanted to expand to the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam).
“It is not complicated to start a business in Myanmar. We need to cooperate. You have a large population and very large market thanks to neighbouring with China, India and Bangladesh,” Kitsana said.
“That is why many countries want to do business in Myanmar, and Thai companies do not want to miss such a great opportunity.”
Innovation is the most important factor for the survival of an SME, he said.
“SMEs have to develop their own innovative products so that they can survive in the long run. If you are an SME and you do what others do, it is hard to succeed because you are in the red ocean,” he said, using business jargon meaning an already-crowded marketplace.
The TCC plans to educate small businesses in Myanmar on how to do business amid fierce competition, he said. During the trip, the Thai chamber negotiated with its local counterpart on holding international exhibitions in Myanmar.
The first event will be an international food exhibition like Thaifex, bringing exhibitors from South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and elsewhere.
“We are eager to introduce food technology to Myanmar,” Kitsana said. “We will show how you can preserve food longer, how you can grow vegetables faster and how you can produce goods that are more suitable to the Burmese taste.”
Niyom Wairatpanij, vice chairman of the TCC, said the chamber would create more opportunities for Thai businesses to find partners in Myanmar. Business-matching events would be held yearly to boost trade and investment.
Wachira Kaewkor, director of Thailand’s Office of SME Promotion, said the trip was a good chance for Thai firms to learn about such things as laws and rules, business channels and resources to forge business networks between Thai and Myanmar SMEs.
“It will help Thai entrepreneurs to find new partners, suppliers and customers to optimise their organisational efficiency and effectiveness, and finally to enhance the Asean Economic Community,” he said.
The two countries have a superb relationship and coordination in business ties thanks to their long border, he said, which led to product exchanges, knowledge-sharing and business collaboration.
Maung Maung Lay, vice president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said there was still room for improvement in trading with Thailand.
“Thailand is a friend in need. Whenever we need a friend, Thailand is always there. “It is also one of our major trading partners. We can even reach higher if we work together more extensively,” he said.