ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Japanese firms moving to Thailand
Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may relocate to Thailand over the next five years because of the stronger yen and promising and steady growth of the Thai automotive industry. The public and private sectors were urged to prepare for the movement, especially the rising demands of 250,000 to 300,000 skilled workers at different education levels from secondary school to vocational and engineering school.
Dusit Nontanakorn, chairman of the Board of Trade, raised the issue at the Joint Public Private Consultative Committee after a discussion with the Japanese Business Association called Keidanren earlier this month. Keidanren expects SMEs will invest 100-200 million baht (US$3.2 million-6.4 million each).
"Small and medium-sized enterprises are different from large industries because they need to have confidence and facilitation for appropriate locations and financial support," said Mr. Dusit.
He said the Thai labor shortage should not be an obstacle for investment relocation if the government prepares in advance. However, one significant factor is political conflict. State agencies such as the Board of Investment may need to convince Japanese SMEs about Thailand's political stability because new investors could be unaware of local conditions, he said.
Tharadol Piempongsan, the deputy secretary-general to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, said a survey on business sentiment of Japanese corporations in Thailand by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce-Bangkok (JCCB) showed a more promising outlook in the first half of this year, especially for electrical, electronic and automotive products.
Of the 361 respondents, 67 percent said they had positive experiences dealing with the Thai-Japan Free Trade Agreement, followed by 53 percent with the Asean Free Trade Area, 26 percent for the Asean-China FTA, 13 percent for the Thai-Australia FTA and 9 percent for Asean-India agreements.
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