President’s Report to the Annual General Meeting

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: https://www.aust-thai.org.au

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

Thailand Investment Review – September 2021

Download the Thailand Investment Review for September 2021.

Based on its survey of multinational companies across 15 industrial sectors in 26 economies, the World Economic Forum concluded in “The Future of Jobs Report 2020” that the 4IR technologies, which have been widely deployed by businesses as a productivity enhancement strategy, are bringing sweeping changes to the labor market worldwide and at a faster rate than expected in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

TIR September 2021

Courtesy of the Thailand Board of Investment.

Thailand Investment Review – June 2021

Download the Thailand Investment Review for June 2021.

With global warming demanding rapid and far-reaching actions to reduce carbon emissions, many economies have galvanized their efforts to change towards clean energy and decarbonized living. In Thailand, action is being taken to fulfill the country’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by one-fifth from its business-as-usual level, while some major economies around the world have initiated even more drastic efforts to keep the global temperature below 2 or preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial level by 2030.

TIR June 2021

Courtesy of the Thailand Board of Investment.

Thailand Investment Review – May 2021

Download the Thailand Investment Review for May 2021.

With the coronavirus expected to remain a persistent threat to the global population for many years to come and with healthcare technology rapidly advancing, Thailand is looking at tapping into the strategic advantages of its competitive industrial and healthcare supply chain and improved R&D resources to propel the country’s medical device technology to the forefront of the global market.

TIR May 2021

Courtesy of the Thailand Board of Investment.

Thailand Investment Review – April 2021

Download the Thailand Investment Review for April 2021.

Attached herewith please kindly find the TIR for April 2021 discovering the endless demand of colocation data centers & cloud technology in Thailand and beyond, the adoption of new softwares & communications technologies, an ongoing IT infrastructure to support the growing market, and much more across every sector.  Also, there is a capture on the BOI’s incentives for the digital industry granting to companies that like to have business ventures (as minimum as 1 million baht where the cost of land and working cap excluded) in Thailand.

TIR April 2021

Courtesy of the Thailand Board of Investment.

Thailand Investment Review – March 2021

Download the Thailand Investment Review for March 2021.

Thailand’s farm and food industry has been constantly incorporating new innovations in an effort to meet the increasingly sophisticated demands of a global market that is becoming swamped with virtually endless options. Staying ahead of the game in this hugely competitive environment requires access to a wide diversity of raw materials on vast agricultural plantations and a well-developed supply chain. Leveraging advancements in digitalization and utilizing deep technology such as 3D printing, AI and big data, the Thai agri-food industry is also producing foods that align with mainstream intelligence technology as well as addressing environmental concerns.

TIR – March 2021.pdf

Courtesy of the Thailand Board of Investment.

EEC Updates and Investment Opportunities

EEC Updates and Investment Opportunities – Joint ATBC/RTE/EEC & BOI Webinar 26 February 2021

Download the presentation from the EEC Updates and Investment Opportunities joint webinar.

Jointly hosted by the the Royal Thai Embassy, Canberra and the Australia-Thailand Business Council in collaboration with the Thailand Board of Investment, Sydney Office, the presentation highlights the key points covered during the webinar.

Her Excellency, Ms. Santipitak’s Speech to the ATBC AGM

Remarks by H.E. Busadee Santipitaks, Ambassador of Thailand to Australia at the Annual General Meeting Live Event of the Australia Thailand Business Council on Wednesday 2 December 2020.

Good Afternoon/ Good Evening, Mr. Doug Blunt, ATBC President,

คุณเกริกไกร จิระแพทย์, Honorary Advisor to the ATBC,

คุณ Marko Malivong, Guest Speaker,

ATBC members,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s a pleasure and honour to be invited as a Speaker at the Annual General Meeting of Australia-Thailand Business Council.

This year 2020 has been a challenging year for us all because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I arrived in Australia at the end of February and faced lockdown from mid-March.

Since then, the Royal Thai Embassy and the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Sydney together with our Team Thailand agencies have been working with the relevant authorities in Canberra as well as the States and Territories in ensuring that we have continuous repatriation flights for Thais to return to Thailand and that stranded Australians in Thailand can also return home. We are also able to operate cargo flights to Australia in these arrangements.

We are indeed very fortunate to be in Australia which has been very successful in handling the spread of the COVID19 effectively.  Similarly, while Thailand has been recognized by WHO as one of the successful countries curbing the spread of the COVID19 in a whole-of-the-government approach as well as support from key players, such as the Village Health Volunteers, Thailand still maintains a cautious approach in balancing the health response and taking sustained economic recovery.

While we have not announced any travel bubbles, we have since July allowed eligible, limited and specific groups of Non-Thais who fulfill the necessary criteria to travel to Thailand. We certainly hope to welcome more Australians to Thailand whenever the travel restrictions are lifted and circumstances ready.

Prior to the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic in 2019, Thailand had a 2.4% GDP growth and welcomed almost 40 million tourists/travellers (39.8 million) to our country. However, in the 3rd quarter of 2020, Thailand’s economy has contracted by -6.4%. In particular, the tourism and hospitality industry has been hit very hard.

An initial forecast for Thailand’s economy in 2020 was expected to contract by 7.3–7.8%. The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) has revised it to at -6%, due to increased private sector investment, better exports and manageable domestic issues.

Signs of visible growth in the Thai economy include expansion in the sectors of construction (7.4%), finance and insurance (1.7%), and media (1.7%) sectors.

Similarly, major international economic/financial agencies also forecast that Thailand’s economy will rebound in 2021. NESDC expects an overall forecast of Thailand’s GDP will be between 3.5–4.5%

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that Thailand’s GDP will increase by +4.0% next year, after a drop by -7.1% this year
  • The World Bank (WB) estimated Thailand’s GDP will grow by +4.1 % in 2021, after a decline by -5.0% this year.
  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) projects that Thailand’s GDP will increase by +4.5 in 2021, after a -8.0 % decline this year.

Additional statistics show that Thailand is among the top countries with the highest COVID-19 recovery index, according to the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI).

  • 21st in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index (from 27th in 2019)
  • 44th in WIPO’s Global Innovation Index (from 43rd in 2019)
  • 57th in the UN’s E-Government Development Index
  • 29th in IMD’s World Competitiveness Ranking (25th in 2019).

In our efforts to revive the economy, we fully recognise the importance of private sector involvement in responding to COVID-19 situation by promoting sustainable cooperation on basis of “3Rs” and this was delivered by our PM at
the recent ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council:

  • The first “R” is “Responsiveness”. This means promptly responding to economic impacts, particularly the logistics of goods distribution as well as for producers and exporters in the supply chain. This should also include regular and interactive discussions, exchanges of information and proactive collaboration between ASEAN counterparts.
  • The second “R” is “Recovery”. This refers to strong economic recovery. It also means focusing on maintaining open markets for trade and investment through promoting the full utilisation of existing FTAs (13 FTAs with 18 different nations), and also further exploring opportunities to negotiate free trade agreements with countries that hold potential, such as through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
  • The third “R” is “Resilience“. This refers to the ability to respond to future public health emergencies. This is to be nurtured through hastening of development of digital economy and e-commerce, as well as benefiting from digital economy for industrial production and trade facilitation.

These steps will help to ensure that the supply and value chains will be strong and sustainable.

Just a few words on how Thailand is handling the COVID19 situation in Thailand and why there will be more opportunities for greater economic engagement and increased business activities. In balancing public health security with promoting economic activities, the Royal Thai Government has launched the “Stop COVID, not the Thai economy” policy.

In the past few months, Thailand has implemented economic measures worth 100 billion AUD, equivalent to approximately 12% of our GDP. Economic relief packages include wide-ranging monetary and fiscal measures including soft loans, debt moratoriums, cash handouts as well as extension of tax filing deadlines.

Apart from preventing the spread of COVID-19, Thailand has focused our priority on developing domestic vaccine production. The relevant stakeholders, including government agencies, the private sector, and research centre are partnering up to develop potential COVID-19 vaccines.

Thailand is also working with other partners to secure safe and effective vaccines which should be available as a public good. Most recently, on 27 November, Thailand has entered into an agreement with AstraZeneca on COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing for Thailand. This will help us to secure 26 million doses by mid-2021. It is an important factor towards economic recovery.

Despite COVID19, our bilateral relations continue to grow. Thailand and Australia still remain the leading trade partner of one another, with a total trade value of nearly 20 billion AUD in 2019. Trade between Thailand and Australia has not been greatly affected.  The trade volume up till October is at about 15 billion AUD. It is estimated that by the end of this year the bilateral trade volume will be 2-3% less than that of the previous year.

A very important step that will help us towards regional economic recovery, is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which was recently signed by 15 Leaders, including Thailand and Australia. It is one of the largest trade agreements, encompassing one-third of the world population and 30% of the world GDP. RCEP will further bolster economic cooperation in terms of trade facilitation, e-commerce support platform and fair competition for SMEs.

Most recently, an important step in our bilateral relations is that on 13 November 2020, H.E. Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand and The Honourable Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia signed a Joint Declaration in elevating our bilateral relations to a Strategic Partnership.

While the Strategic Partnership is wide ranging in the areas of collaboration such as political and security, economic engagement, sectoral collaboration and people-to-people ties, it will also provide a roadmap for us to intensify our engagement in focused sectors.

The next steps will be for officials in Thailand and Australia to formulate a Joint Plan of Action, in key priority areas, including economic cooperation on digital economy, health services, education services, tourism and agriculture.

As a result of COVID19, another priority area of focus is addressing problems relating to supply chain disruption, including logistics transportation disruption. Thailand therefore sees the relevance of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) located in Rayong-Chonburi-Chachoengsao provinces in Thailand. The EEC strategy is to focus on connectivity and focused technology and industries, and innovation.

It is also at the centre of connectivity through multi-modal transportation development, including high-speed rail, double track rail, 2 deep seaports in Chonburi and Rayong and a new U-Tapao international airport.

The EEC has targeted technologies and industries that will be more relevant in post COVID-19 focussing on digital, healthcare and logistics:

(1) Digital and Emerging Technologies – with 5 G network expected to cover the EEC area by 2021, it will transform manufacturing production into “Smart Factory” and support the growth of e- commerce in the region. There are plans to develop the EECi (Innovation).

(2) Health and Wellbeing –the EEC will optimise Thailand’s strength in medical, food and agriculture sectors through R&D in flagship projects such as “Genomics Thailand” for biomedicine research and “Food Innopolis” for food innovation.

 (3) Smart Logistics – the development of EEC’s logistics industries will be centered around the U-Tapao International Airport and Aerotropolis, which will support greater flow of trade and investment and growing e-commerce.

The responsible public agency for the EEC is the Eastern Economic Corridor Office of Thailand (www.eeco.or.th)

In addition, the Board of Investment of Thailand whose representative Office is in Sydney has also launched a “Thailand Plus Package”. It is aimed at accelerating investment in large projects and focuses on high technology.

Eligible projects whose value of investment exceeds 22 million AUD (500 million baht) in 2020 and 44 million AUD (1 billion baht) in 2021 (excluding cost of land and working capital), may get 5-8 years of corporate income tax exemption.

Lastly, I would like to introduce you to explore and do business online with Thailand through the following digital platforms, put up by the Ministry of Commerce and Thailand Trade Office Sydney. They are:

  • thaitrade.com: the national b2b marketplace to connect Thai exporters with international buyers around the world;
  • stayinstylebangkok.com: all in one for lifestyle product,
    it is an excellent platform for buyers and distributors to meet with leading producers of trendy lifestyle products and explore the opportunity for business matching.

If you are interested in Thai products and wish to join the business talk sessions and meet with other Thai exporters, or if you have any queries, please contact the Thai Trade Centre, Sydney at thaitradesydney@gmail.com

Thank you.

Thailand Investment Review – September 2020

Download the Thailand Investment Review for September 2020.

Facilitated by easier access to high-speed internet, the rise of Thailand’s vibrant digital industry over recent years has been underpinned by the rich creativity and strong entrepreneurial spirit of Thailand’s tech-savvy digital generation. At the forefront of this brave new digital world, Thailand has seen its economy consistently prove its readiness to embrace the new  opportunities presented by the global digital revolution.

TIR – September 2020.pdf

Courtesy of the Thailand Board of Investment.

ATBC welcomes strategic partnership with Thailand

In a press release from the Australian Embassy Thailand, PM Scott Morrison said:

“Australia has a longstanding friendship with Thailand, stretching back to the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1952.

Today, with my Thai counterpart, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, I have elevated our relationship to that of a Strategic Partnership.

In view of the evolving strategic shifts in the region, through this Strategic Partnership we will enhance cooperation in key areas, including defence and security, cyber affairs, anti-money laundering and combating transnational crime.

This historic announcement delivers on a joint commitment that Prime Minister Prayut and I made at the East Asia Summit last year in Bangkok.”

Read the full press release here.

Read the Thai version here.