Commerce Ministry, Board of Trade turn export, investment focus on CLMV economies

Commerce Ministry, Board of Trade turn export, investment focus on CLMV economies

FORESEEING tougher export conditions in the world market, the Board of Trade of Thailand and the Commerce Ministry are concentrating their efforts on deepening penetration of the Asean market, with a focus on Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) as emerging economies with high demand for imports and additional investment.
Under their joint CLMV plan, a mission to Vietnam was recently conducted as a pilot project to boost trade and investment with this group of newly emerging economies.

"Despite expected overall export growth for this year of just 1 per cent, shipments to CLMV have grown strongly, by more than 5 per cent. Therefore, private enterprises would like to penetrate those markets from both the trade and investment angles, as there are larger opportunities waiting for Thai interests to explore there," said Sanan Angubolkul, vice chairman of the Board of Trade.

The export target to CLMV markets this year is Bt736 billion, some 11 per cent higher than last year's Bt665 billion.

This represents about 9.1 per cent of the Kingdom's exports - a similar percentage to each of the key markets of Japan, Europe and the United States - making the CLMV group a strategic export market with high growth potential for Thai products.

Sanan said the overall CLMV market now offered a great new opportunity for Thai manufacturers and traders, as its economic growth averaged more than 5 per cent, while Thai gross domestic prodict had been growing by about 3-4 per cent a year. To achieve the CLMV export target, the Board of Trade has formulated a strategy with the Commerce Ministry to take a number of initiatives.

This is centred on the setting up of a Joint Business Council, a fully integrated task force comprising representatives from the CLMV governments and private organisations and banks from Thailand to realise the following objectives: to identify and promote trade and investment opportunities in strategic products and industries within CLMV; to make recommendations on policy matters and facilitate increased border trade with CLMV; and to propose new policies and/or amendments to government-to-government policies with a view to increasing bilateral trade and investment. Moreover, to help small and medium-sized enterprises, the Board of Trade has set up a new project for large entrepreneurs to train SMEs in respect of CLMV opportunities, he said.

The private sector will utilise and share the experience of successful Thai businesses in CLMV with other Thai businesspeople, traders and investors who want to start business in the four countries. As a pilot project, the Board of Trade and the Institute for Management Education for Thailand Foundation have jointly initiated a coaching project to guide businesses on how set up in Vietnam. Twelve companies planning to invest about Bt1.2 billion in Vietnam are being coached under the programme for two years.

Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association and a committee member of the Board of Trade, said Vietnam was one of the strongest countries that Thai businesses and investors should look to for further trade and investment, because of its large population and good basic infrastructure, while it still benefits from export privileges from developed countries. Thailand and Vietnam are targeting bilateral trade worth US$20 billion (Bt670 billion) by 2020.

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