By Erich Parpart
The Foreign Ministry yesterday urged foreign business representatives to help give their respective governments a better understanding of the political developments in the Kingdom.
The ministry’s permanent secretary, Sihasak Phuangketkeow, had a working lunch with representatives of foreign chambers of commerce to ensure them that the junta really cares about foreign trade and investment.
Many of them have been living and working in Thailand for a long time, so they understand the situation better than most and could help convey correct information to their countries, he said.
Foreign business representatives mostly are confident in the political stability brought by the military after the May 22 coup, he said.
“They certainly want Thailand to move forward to democracy but stability and consistent policy are much more important for doing business,” he said.
The ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is adjusting many economic policies and is ready to listen to opinions and views from the foreign business community, he said.
Concern about outdated laws
But, some foreign business people had raised concerns about outdated laws and regulations that could cause difficulties for them, Sihasak said.
Business visas, work permits and the development of facilities and infrastructure were important for foreigners doing business in Thailand, he said.
Meanwhile, Stanley Kang, chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand (JFCCT), said there was more stability in the country from the increased rule of law, which helped facilitate investment. The JFCCT is preparing proposals to be presented to the NCPO within the next two weeks, he said.
He added that he had been doing business in Thailand for a long time and now felt that the tangible increase in the enforcement of the law had provided the country with greater stability and should help facilitate the investment environment.
“The things that the private sector has been giving importance to are Thailand’s readiness to enter the Asean Economic Community, because the country has the potential and ability to be one of the leaders in the region. What is needed is the increase of skilled workers that is needed for the expected increase of investment opportunities from the launching of the AEC,” he said.
Kang said the private sector had a role to play in terms of creating skilled labour for the country via the promotion of education and vocational studies for workers who lack certain skills that are needed. The JFCCT also welcomed the NCPO policy to legally register unskilled migrant workers.
He said the private sector was experiencing problems in getting visas and work permits for migrant workers and wanted the process to be faster. The JFCCT also wants the NCPO to support the service industries and to aid recovery of the tourism industry, which has slowed because of the political upheaval early in the year.
Members of the JFCCT include chambers of commerce from Europe, North America and Asian countries.