British Ambassador H.E. Mark Gooding OBE visits Pattaya

H.E. British Ambassador Mark Gooding delivering his address on UK/Thai relations.

H.E. the British Ambassador, Mark Gooding OBE, visited the Eastern Seaboard (ESB) on Tuesday, 19th July. After visiting various companies on the way to Pattaya, he met with Thai and Western professionals who had been brought together by the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) for a dinner at the Avani Pattaya Resort.

General Manager, Matthew Fryar and his team did an excellent job of keeping everyone happy and all declared the venue and meal were excellent.

Before speaking, the ambassador mingled with the attendees, talking about various topics and concerns. He was seen chatting to old stalwarts such as Jimmy Howard and Joe Barker-Bennett.

Two past Chairman of the BCCT, Simon Matthews (CEO of Manpower Thailand) and Graham Macdonald (Chairman of Macallan Insurance Brokers) observed how good the wine was.

From left Peter Malhotra, Graham MacDonald of Macallan Insurance Broker & BCCT Honorary Adviser to the Eastern Seaboard, Greg Watkins, Simon Matthews of Manpower, Donna Moolman and Chris Cracknell.

As the pre-prandial drinks ended, people were invited to takes their seats so the main part of the evening could begin.

Present BCCT Chairman, Chris Cracknell, thanked the ambassador for coming to Pattaya and introduced him to the audience.

H.E. Ambassador Mark Gooding OBE took to the stage and thanked Chris Cracknell and everyone who was there. He apologised for not being able to do this before but due to Covid and a hectic schedule it had just not been possible. He also passed on his thanks to Ben Morley, UK DIT Thailand Country Director for all the help he had given when planning the itinerary for the two-day visit to the ESB.

BCCT Chair & Chairman of Grant Thornton, Chris Cracknell (left) with recent new BCCT member Ashleigh Bignall, Head of School at British Learning Centre.

He talked about many subjects but started by saying that Thailand offered UK businesses both opportunities and challenges. Naturally, one of the main benefits is being able to access over 650 million people who live in the ASEAN community. This was done, along with many other reasons, via a developed South East Asian economy which had lower costs than many of its neighbours along with attractive tax incentives – especially in the Eastern Economic Corridor – a skilled workforce and attractive lifestyle.

The ambassador then countered these benefits by pointing out that things were not always on the positive side. There were more than a few challenges for British businesses back in the UK who were looking to do imports and/or exports as well as those who are actually based in the Kingdom. He named the lack of transparency with some regulations, the excessive administration that had to be done as well as having to plough through the bureaucracy that always seemed to appear by magic.

Our host for the evening Matt Fryar, General Manager of the Avani Pattaya Resort with Pattaya’s very own media mogul Peter Malhotra of Pattaya Mail.

His Excellency then continued by saying the British Embassy continued to work with various partners such as BCCT to harness the knowledge and experience of their members in identifying these challenges and working alongside our partners in Thai Government through mechanisms such as the JETCO to resolve these challenges to help ensure the future prosperity of UK businesses and Thailand.

At the end of speech, the ambassador agreed to take some questions from the floor. Ben Dobbs, country manager of Alliance Laundry, kicked things off by raising concerns over logistics between the two countries.

The ‘long’ long table of all attendees listening attentively to the Ambassador.

Ashleigh Bignall, founder of the British Learning Centre in Pattaya, asked about how education could help further relations between Thailand and the UK.

David Hayes from the JAND Group then rounded the evening’s Q & A session off with a couple of questions – the last one being about the Conservative candidates standing to become UK Prime Minister.

The ambassador responded well to all the questions and queries – even the last one!

The event was wrapped up after the meal with His Excellency promising to come back soon.

Ben Dobbs, Managing Director of Alliance Laundry (Thailand) Ltd posing a question on the challenges to business of the high costs of freight.
BCCT Executive Director Greg Watkins with Donna Moolman, Finance Director of Lucy Electric (Thailand) Ltd (right).

David Hayes, Chairman & CEO of JAND Group and BCCT’s representative in Phuket asking a question.
New BCCT member Richard Rogers, CEO of his own education consultancy asking a question.

BCCT Chairman, Chris Cracknell, thanked the ambassador for coming to Pattaya and introduced him to the audience.
H.E. British Ambassador Mark Gooding reacting to the humorous nature of the BCCT Chair’s introduction.