Special Report: Commerce Ministry promotes business expansions to BIMSTEC


The Commerce Ministry has encouraged Thai entrepreneurs to consider expanding their businesses to countries around the Bay of Bengal, especially Myanmar.

During a seminar on trade and investment opportunities in Myanmar, India, and Bangladesh, Permanent Secretary for Commerce Yanyong Puangrat said the BIMSTEC or Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation is also another region that Thai entrepreneurs should not overlook.

BIMSTEC consists of Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The region has a combined 1.5 billion population. According to Mr Yanyong, BIMSTEC is suitable for production base expansion and the source of many raw materials. He suggested that Thai businesses make use of special trade agreements in the bloc.

The Permanent Secretary for Commerce placed an emphasis on Myanmar, India, and Bangladesh. He said Myanmar, which is opening up for trade and investments, could provide vast business opportunities in public utility, infrastructure, hotel, hospital, and television broadcasting.

Mr Yanyong said India, on the other hand, is opening up for investments in infrastructure and jewelry. For Bangladesh, Thai entrepreneurs could provide technical knowhow in food preservation to the country’s instant food industry, which could be lucrative to Thais.

Meanwhile, Honorary Advisor of the Fiscal Policy Research Institute Foundation (FPRI) Narongchai Akrasanee said that the world is keeping an eye on Myanmar. He said a smooth election and good democratic progress could mean Myanmar may change its international trade laws for better trading atmosphere.

Mr Narongchai, also a former Commerce Minister, explained that currently foreign investors cannot take their profit out of Myanmar; in addition, its exchange rates are regulated by the government, making the rates different from the market rates. He said these two laws could be amended if the election is held smoothly.

Mr Narongchai said Thailand has a big advantage over other countries; for example, Burmese admire Thai products and television programs. Nonetheless, investors must be aware of risks from political uncertainties in Myanmar.

The Commerce Ministry has assigned the FPRI to study ways to expand trades to Myanmar, India, and Bangladesh by organizing business forums in the three nations. The findings from the forums would be used to formulate strategic economic policies to improve Thai international trades.