Saha Group, the country’s largest consumer products conglomerate, has suggested the new government pay more attention to foreign trade policy and give more weight to trade with China and Asean to cash in on the huge purchasing power when the Asean Economic Community (AEC) takes effect in 2015.
Boonsithi Chokwatana, the group chairman, said yesterday that when Asean’s single market takes shape with the lifting of all trade barriers, community products would be major beneficiaries. This creates a huge opportunity for farmers to earn more income.
Therefore, foreign trade policy should be more forward-looking, covering five to 10 years instead of year-by-year as in the past.
“The government should strengthen our country’s trade relations with China, the world’s fastest-growing economy. There are huge opportunities to export agricultural products to China. Now, the Thai economy is like a fast train already on track, so we should grasp opportunities from this advancing momentum,” he said yesterday.
With the formation of the AEC imminent, Thailand is now very attractive for foreign investors as a springboard to expand their businesses and cash in on regional integration, Mr Boonsithi said.
After the March 11 disaster in Japan, many Japanese companies have expressed their intention to move their production bases to Thailand. Therefore, the new government should help them by making the country’s infrastructure and logistics and processing systems more convenient and efficient.
At the same time, the government should offer measures to increase people’s incomes.
“The easy way to increase people’s incomes is to make the baht weak. China, Indonesia and Korea are three countries that have been successful in using a weak-currency policy,” Mr Boonsithi said.
When the baht is weak, he said, exporters earn more. With more money in their pockets and no worry about foreign-exchange losses, they can afford to be generous with their staff. And when workers have higher salaries, they will spend more.
Mr Boonsithi said Saha Group had instructed all subsidiaries to study the potential of their products to establish a stronger presence in Asean. Categories with high potential for export to the AEC are cosmetics, fashion and food.
Boonkiet Chokwatana, a director, said Saha would stage the 15th Saha Group Fair at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center from June 30 to July 3 to attract investors and consumers.
The fair is a great platform for the group’s subsidiaries to showcase more than 1,000 products and designs to prospective business partners from Asean countries such as Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Malaysia and the Philippines. The event will also provide chances for them to hold direct business talks.
Saha Group is also branching into the property business again through a joint venture with Charn Issara Development Plc to develop a condominium worth 1.5 billion baht in Cha-am, Phetchaburi, in the third quarter.
Charn Issara holds a 50% stake in the joint venture, Ruam Issara, and two Saha subsidiaries _ Saha Pathanapibul and ICC International _ hold the rest. Its registered capital is 80 million baht. The condominium will be built on 14 rai of land, with another 56 rai for future developments.
Source: Bangkok Post