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March 27, 2008

British minister in Thailand to boost trade ties
Lord Digby Jones
Lord Digby Jones, UK Trade and Investment Minister (4th from left) at a press briefing at the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand in Bangkok, with Quinton Mark Quayle, the British Ambassador to Thailand (5th from left).
United Kingdom’s  Trade and Investment Minister Lord Digby Jones, who was on a three-day visit to Thailand, said Wednesday the country is among the 17 high growth markets UK has targeted, of which five are members of Asean.

Speaking at the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) Wednesday, Lord Jones called on the Thai government to ease some regulations including land ownership by non-Thais, prohibition against a wholly-owned company by non-Thais, and tariffs.

Quoting UK’s Scotch Whisky Association, he said the tariffs in Thailand are six times higher than in China. He also urged Thai government to consider relaxing company ownership rules, citing that Vietnam and China allow a 100-percent ownership for foreign firms.

The minister, leading a highly diverse group of representatives from UK industries such as finance, energy, pharmaceutical and automotive plans to meet with Thai companies that have made significant investments in the UK, which include Thai Beverage and CP Group.

The UK has already invested $5 billion (Bt157.5 billion) in the five countries, including Thailand, he said. Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Britons, with over 900,000 vacationing in the country last year.

On Tuesday, the minister met with Thai Prime Minister and Defense Minister Samak Sundaravej, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Mingkwan Sangsuwan and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry Suwit Khunkitti.

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