BCCT Chairman encourages business growth between Pattaya and the UK-European markets
Hot on the heels of a most fruitful meeting with Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh at the Pattaya City Hall in June this year, the BCCT team comprising of Graham Macdonald, BCCT chairman and Peter Malhotra, BCCT Eastern Seaboard committee member attended the monthly meeting of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association (PBTA) to seek and enhance avenues of cooperation between Thai and British-European businessmen for the purpose of increasing the numbers of business investments and tourism between both countries.
Graham Macdonald, BCCT chairman gave a brief description of the background of the chamber saying, “The British Chamber of Commerce Thailand is the oldest foreign chamber and the largest non-Asian foreign chamber in Thailand. In addition, it is the largest and oldest British Chamber in Asia. At its inception there were only 17 founding British members and three associate members.
BCCT Chairman Graham Macdonald (left) and Peter Malhotra, BCCT Eastern Seaboard committee member address the PBTA.
“In 2011, the BCCT has a membership of approximately 600 including 550 companies with nearly 2,700 named representatives covering a broad cross-section of business interests in Thailand. Membership is open to companies of all nationalities and sizes.”
He said, “Our mission is to serve the needs and promote the development of British business in Thailand and as ‘Partners in Progress’ contribute directly to Thailand’s economic advancement.”
He went on to say, “The objectives of our visit today is to explain how the West views the kingdom at the moment along with showing you statistics on the decline of western holiday makers and new investors.
(L to R) New PBTA President Wiwat Pattanasin, Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh and Thanes Supornsaharungsri, PBTA’s chief advisor discuss important matters affecting Pattaya.
“We are here because we want to help the city and the rest of the Eastern Seaboard attract more western tourists and investment.”
Graham showed statistics of some of the business dealings of note between the UK and Thailand. He showed that, “Thailand was the biggest foreign investor in the UK in 2010, that Tesco invested more into Thailand last year than any other country apart from UK. He went on to say that most of the world’s Strepsil’s are made in Thailand. Even Boot’s want to increase their stores in Thailand by 50% by the end of next year. More Triumph motorbikes are made in Chonburi than anywhere else and Durex is moving its worldwide R&D centre to Chonburi.”
Macdonald also pointed out the SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) of doing business in Thailand. “The Strengths are that Thailand is in the right place at the right time which is amongst the fastest growing parts of the world. We have a good advantage in the service sector pertaining to tourism and healthcare. Thailand has strong business fundamentals regarding balance sheets and the banking sector.
“Our weaknesses are clearly the political disturbances which hinder medium to long term strategic planning.”
“But opportunities are in abundance. There is a strong regional integration between ASEAN and East Asia Community not to mention capital inflows from China and other emerging markets.
“There are also certain threats which will affect our business opportunities and those are regional integration of ASEAN and East Asia Community, consolidation of western MNCs away from Thailand and the growing competition from China and other low cost production bases.”
Graham said that even with some negative comments from the overseas business sector, according to the World Bank survey of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ amongst 183 countries, Thailand is ranked at an impressive 12th place overall worldwide.
“In the Corporate Governance Watch report, which assesses the quality of corporate governance in 11 Asian countries, Thailand moved up four spots in October 2010 to rank fourth in Asia on this year’s list compiled by the Asian Corporate Governance Association and CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. Thailand scored 5.5, up from 4.7 in 2007 and was recognised as the most improved country due to highest score improvement.”
In conclusion the BCCT delegation answered the question that was on everyone’s minds, “What about Pattaya and the Eastern Seaboard?”
Graham said, “Without doubt, Pattaya has its seedy side but how can we overcome it? Promote medical tourism and golf. Advertise MICE capabilities, work with local industry on the Eastern Seaboard to encourage expats to come and live in Pattaya and not elsewhere.
“We are here to work with you. It is our job to enhance cooperation between businesses of both our countries, to become Partners in Progress.”
Macdonald also aired the possibility of organising a large scale exhibition in Pattaya, inviting all British companies to display and advertise their products and services. “This would really put the spotlight on Pattaya and show that we are an important MICE destination.”