BANGKOK – Trade volume between Thailand and Europe doubled during the past 10 years. With trade totaling almost 57 billion US dollars, the European Economic Area (EEA) remains Thailand’s fourth largest trading partner.
In his keynote address at the Annual General Meeting of the European – ASEAN Business Center in Bangkok on 9 April 2014, Deputy Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Narong Sasitorn stated that Thai and European businesses are inseparable partners for growth, sharing common interests and goals.
He said that many European investors have found Thailand to be a place to do profitable businesses, and some have made Thailand their home. In 2013, Thai exports to the European Union alone overtook that to Japan for the first time. Also in 2013, Thai Direct Investment in EEA increased to a record high of 1.9 billion dollars, surpassing FDI from EEA in Thailand for the first time in history.
Many Thai investors are now expanding their businesses to Europe, especially in the food and agro-industries, tourism and gastronomy, and the retail sectors. Government agencies are also doing their part to promote Thai direct investment in Europe as a key policy to strengthen Thailand’s position in the global economy.
Regarding Thailand’s current political situation, Mr. Narong said that he has great confidence in the resilience of the Thai people. Thailand has faced with many hard times in the past and has always bounced back. With its strong fundamentals, Thailand remains a viable destination for trade and investment from Europe. The country’s macroeconomic and fiscal positions remain strong. Export industries have not been affected by the political turmoil. There are, however, signs of sluggish domestic consumption, but Thailand expects it to recover very swiftly once the political tensions subside. The country’s tourism industry is quickly regaining its strength to that of the pre-turmoil period.
Mr. Narong reassured the gathering of European business people that Thailand is committed to minimizing any negative effect from this political crisis on its investment-friendly policies. He said that, in early April 2014, the Election Commission allowed the Government to appoint the new Board of Investment. This will enable the processing of applications for new investment projects worth more than 600 billion baht.
He explained that Thailand is located right at the heart of mainland Southeast Asia. With connectivity infrastructure linking Thailand with her neighbors, Thailand can become a bridge linking European businesses to those based in ASEAN and beyond.
Thailand is also an ideal partner for Europe in this region, not only because Thailand shares the same values, but also because it is a modern country with a moderate foreign policy that values Europe’s constructive, intensive, and lasting engagement in the region.
He pointed out that Thailand wants to improve its business environment and move up to a higher ranking on ease of doing business and transparency indexes. It believes that Europe will benefit from Thailand’s strategic location and its determination to improve the business environment.