Thai firms urged to cash in on CLMV for brighter future

Thai firms urged to cash in on CLMV for brighter future
KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN

TO cash in on the full integration of the Asean Economic Community at the end of the year, Thailand's public and private sectors should form a win-win strategic partnerships with CLMV countries to explore untapped opportunities, leading economists have said.

The alliances with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) could be a major mechanism in moving the region's economies forward, economists said, with the preferred partnerships in resource allocations and the transfer of technologies.

Exploring business opportunities should also take place.

Such partnerships would allow Thailand to cash in on the region's liberalisation in terms of trade and investment, they said.

Dr Ekniti Nitithanprapas, director-general of the Finance Ministry's State Enterprise Policy Committee, said economists believed that Thailand's business sector would benefit by more companies expanding into the CLMV, which had a combined population of 170 million.

The countries have young and energetic demographics with growing incomes, he said.

"Thailand and the CLMV will be able to join hands in terms of resource allocation. Thailand needs to import energy and labour from the CLMV," he said.

"However, we will be able to exchange those natural resources with know-how and technologies, especially in the manufacturing sector."

Ekniti was named the Rising Star Economist in 2009 by the Thammasat Economics Association.

"The Thai business sector can use the CLMV as its springboard in expanding trade and exports into other markets around the world, especially in the EU, which has a GSP privilege [generalised system of preferences] with the CLMV."

Ekniti said the EU had terminated its GSP with Thailand because it deemed the Kingdom to be an upper middle-income country.

Private companies, therefore, should expand their investment into the CLMV to enjoy the GSP privilege in exporting products to Europe.

Dr Kirida Bhaopichitr, research director at Thailand Development Research Institute, said that with more advanced know-how and technology, many service operators in Thailand would be able to explore business opportunities in the CLMV, especially in logistics and medical services, tourism, trade, banking and finance and insurance.

Dr Kirida was the Rising Star Economist for 2010.

Dr Sakon Varanyuwatana, dean of the Faculty of Economics at Thammasat University, said Thailand's close geographic location to CLMV countries meant goods and services flowed between the nations more easily.

"The opening of the CLMV will allow Thailand to transfer know-how and technology, especially manufacturing, to those business partners in CLMV," Sakon said.

"The move will allow Thailand to move away from the middle-income trap by upgrading the country into a new economic and investment level by focusing on more advance technology and innovation."

Sakon said the Thammasat Economics Association would host the "Thailand's Economic Outlook 2016" forum on November 12 at the Crystal Ballroom at Plaza Athenee Bangkok.

Under the topic "Thailand's Strategy: Prospering with CLMV", Sakon said the forum would include issues that served the interests of Thai and foreign businesspeople who wanted to be informed about the future direction of the Thai economy and strategic partnerships with CLMV nations to better tap regional liberalisation.

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