Why Thailand wants British Business
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As Thailand transitions back to democracy, its ambitious government is looking to attract British exports and investment.
The political and economic situation in Thailand are a “little tricky” at the moment, admits Marcus Winsley, director of trade and investment at UK Trade & Investment, Thailand. The second largest ASEAN economy has slipped from 36th to 49th in terms of ease of doing business over the past three years, and elections have been pushed back to next year. But with an ambitious government keen to boost growth and attract investment, the long-term prospects look good.
British business may have been in Thailand for decades, but there are a host of new opportunities. And the UK has recently seen a genuine upside in UK-Thai business engagement.
At the end of last year the UK Embassy in Bangkok took a delegation of significant UK investors in to meet with Prime Minister Prayut and his new economics team. The meeting, scheduled for 30 minutes, was extended for 90 and each UK company was able to directly address the PM and his ministers with issues ranging from aviation reform and land rights to waste management and taxation.
Some good examples of UK success include Tesco’s Thai business, operating under the Lotus brand, reporting excellent business in its local shops along the Lao border; a UK company signing a deal to convert Bangkok’s waste into energy; and a preference by the Thai education authorities to adopt UK vocational training and EFL standards.
But finding success in the market is down to building the right networks. In the latest CBI podcast International Business Monthly Ben Digby, CBI head of international is joined by Marcus Winsley, director of trade and investment at UK Trade & Investment, Thailand; Mark Garnier MP, the prime minister’s trade envoy to the country and Max Coleman, business development director at UK-ASEAN Business Council. They give their advice on making the most of the opportunities in Thailand – and the wider region – highlighting the support on offer.