President’s Report to the Annual General Meeting of the Australia Thailand Business Council (ATBC)

Monday 13 December 2021 – ZOOM Meeting

Covid 19 and its latest Delta variant has continued to affect all business in the past year and the ATBC is no exception. Your Board has continued to evolve an ongoing strategy of moving with the times and especially since the worldwide epidemic has forced business to adapt.  It always does, most recently with the assistance of Zoom and like programs to communicate across widely spaced locations.  Our website and imaging, strategic partnerships, generous sponsor Kingsgate Consolidated and the efforts of a dedicated Board have all helped us to cope.  We must congratulate Kingsgate on their success in negotiating a reactivation of their gold mining activities at Chatree Thailand from December 2021. It will again be the largest Australian investor and one of the largest foreign employers in Thailand.

Although face to face meetings have not been possible, Zoom and similar meeting tools have made some things less of an obstacle.   In fact, I would say that the flow of contacts and information and ease of communicating through virtual meetings will be a way that business councils like ours can succeed.  It will never be as good as meeting people from time to time but with business pressures and distances it can keep us in constant touch.

The ATBC Board over the past 12 months has comprised President and Treasurer, Doug Blunt, Vice President Jamie Gibson, Secretary and Public Officer, Peter Siripol in Canberra, and Board Member Glen Robinson. A new Chapter (or branch) in Perth has now been formed with the keen and energetic Chris Moor at the helm.  Despite the pressures of his business, he is already making good progress as someone with a background of successful business experience and connections in Australia and Thailand. ATBC is now linked with the ASEAN Business Alliance in WA, the JTSI arm of the WA government and with many like organisations and their sponsors. We are delighted to have the continuing support of Khun Krirkrai Jirapaet in Bangkok as an Honorary Advisor to our Board. We will shortly attract more well-connected business advisors.

Ambassadors HE Busadee Santipitaks of Thailand in Canberra and Australian Ambassador to Thailand HE Mr Allan McKinnon PSM have also been great supporters. We welcome the joint announcement of a Strategic Partnership between Australia and Thailand which is now in Australia’s top 10 largest trading partners.

ATBC President Doug Blunt meeting with Ms. Santipitaks, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Thailand to Australia

As Treasurer of ATBC I mention that on our financial side there were again virtually no office expense charges for the year, thanks to our generous sponsor Kingsgate Consolidated and voluntary contributions of time by our executives.  This has meant that we have had minimal compliance and admin costs. Together with colleagues in Sydney and region, Mr Peter Siripol, who is based in Canberra ACT continues as our local representative and Public Officer there and has been a very valuable contributor to the Council throughout the year.

I mention that Member subscriptions from established members were not called for again during the year 2020/21 as ATBC finances remained healthy and expenses very low. We do need to keep our finances stable as we are funded only by member subscriptions and generous sponsors with an interest in Thai – Australian business relationships. We will be asking all current and past members to review their level of membership and engage actively. All membership fees will be reviewed after the economy is projected to be become more open as the 2022 year progresses.  Fee rates available via the website, for new members. As will be seen from the Statement of Financial Position, the ATBC reports a good financial position as at 30/6/21. Cash balances currently total A$15,042 approx.

I’m pleased to say that the ATBC has continued to rebuild over the course of the past year, with a number of contacts for assistance received, resulting in a continual flow of referrals from us to Thai Government agencies such as Thai Trade and Board of Investment.  In line with our strategy, we have continued to build up our website as a go-to referral source. That said we may have to expand our resources during 2022 as business hopefully returns to a post – Covid normal.

As I briefly mentioned, the year 2020/2021 and to date has again been one of continuing activity for the ATBC. I am pleased to give some examples of our major activities which include but are not limited to:

  • Fairly regular working contact with the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce (AustCham Bangkok) including virtual events which are available to ATBC members. See ATBC website for further details.
  • An MOU with the Thailand ANZ Business Council in Bangkok.  We recently gave an introductory address to TANZBC via Google Meet to their AGM.
  • Virtual Contact with the Thai Ambassador and Consul General, where possible and with the Australian Ambassador to Thailand, Allan McKinnon and Austrade Bangkok;
  • Any ATBC physical events have been postponed since March 2020.  
  • We have continued to support BOI presentations and promotions involving the Thai Ambassador
  • Re-development of our website as a basis for our focussed core activities, which has been relaunched.  An Exchange rate feed AUD/THB with our partner member Dollarsmart is being perfected.
  • Latest updates from the Thai Board of Investment are regularly published. Certainly, your input on how we can make our website even better will be appreciated and how we should communicate with members about events.
  • Weekly updates on international affairs are regularly published in conjunction with Australian Institute of International Affairs.
  • Our member Translationz offers written and verbal translations from Thai to English and vice versa as well as other ASEAN
  • More recently we have been working with Macquarie University researching how Australians from migrant backgrounds relate to international media and feelings of belonging.  

Most of all ATBC is about connecting businesses with Thailand as an alternative to an increasingly uncertain trade environment in North East Asia.  Our website is developing as a reference for the public and for the use of members. Thailand based AustCham’s e-magazine Advance remains available to all members via our website at:

Members are encouraged to connect with Austcham Bangkok and AIIA webinars as advertised for a constant flow of information on what is happening in Thailand, across ASEAN and world affairs – which all affects business.

The ATBC’s traditional role as a high-level organisation aimed at facilitating trade and investment between Australia and Thailand faced increased demand this year.  As we look ahead to the next year we will be once again focusing on:

  • providing bilateral business services to Thai and Australian companies/individuals;
  • building a diverse and active membership base;
  • continuing to promote the Council’s good name and reputation at all levels of engagement;
  • hosting events aimed at providing relevant and meaningful networking, business development opportunities; and
  • continuing to improve our website as the basic go-to starting point for businesses large and small wanting to engage in two-way trade and investment with Thailand.

In conclusion, I think 2020/21 has been a pleasing one for the Council despite a continuance of closed borders and meeting restrictions.  We encourage anybody with an interest in doing business in Thailand to get in touch.

ATBC is all about making connections for business.

Douglas Blunt, ATBC President

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