The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the fourth largest bank in China, will join hands with Thailand’s three most influential private organisations to host an investment seminar and business-matching session early next month for Chinese and Thai enterprises. Forty leading Chinese manufacturers will visit Thailand to explore cooperation with 200 Thai enterprises.

Dusit Nontanakorn, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said last week that the forum would develop closer ties between the businessmen of the two countries, with the focus on expanding trade and investment.

The seminar is part of the private sector’s effort to enhance trade and investment between the two sides after the recent political stand-off in Thailand. Businessmen want to revive foreign investor confidence in Bangkok.

The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking – comprising the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), Federation of Thai Industries and Thai Bankers’ Association – in cooperation with ICBC will organise the one-day forum on November 3 at the Plaza Athenee Hotel in Bangkok.

TCC secretary-general Phairush Burapachaisri said the forum would also respond to the government’s policy to promote investment overseas as a measure to stabilise the currency following the baht’s appreciation.

“The rapid growth of China offers great opportunities for Thai investors. So far, only large enterprises can invest successfully overseas. The joint standing committee will encourage more SMEs to explore overseas markets,” he said.

Foreign direct investment has decelerated markedly in Thailand, but inflows should continue in 2009 and 2010 due to the secular trend to move production away from advanced economies.

Key risks to the outlook are (i) political uncertainty and (ii) the timing of the withdrawal of fiscal and monetary stimulus. Increased political tensions may have a long-lasting impact on investment, and withdrawal of stimulus (in Thailand and the advanced economies) must be precisely timed to avoid macroeconomic imbalances (including new asset bubbles) while also ensuring that the recovery is on a sufficiently solid footing.

The approved Financial Institution Business Act (FIBA) facilitates increase in foreign ownership in Thai foreign institutions. The Financial Institution Business Act (FIBA) became effective on 3 August 2008 as planned. The FIBA allows financial institutions to raise the foreign limit from 25 percent to 49 percent with permission from the BOT and foreign investors may own more than 49 percent equity stake in Thai banks with permission from the Ministry of Finance and recommendation by the BOT. The increase in foreign limit would encourage Thai banks to seek foreign strategic partners to strengthen the capital base, improve core banking business, IT platform, know-how and add inorganic growth to Thai banks.

Dominance of external demand together with a favourable external environment “should lead to robust year-on-year GDP growth of 6.1 percent in 2010.” So says the World Bank in its recent biannual release of the Thailand Economic Monitor, which reviews the state of the nation’s economy for the second of 2010. The report is consistent with the range that has forecast by the Bank of Thailand and by the International Monetary Fund.
The Bank writes that it was sound public balance sheets tha enabled the government to follow “counter-cyclical fscal and monetary policies in 2009” and that Thailand’s debt-to-GDP ratio has only increased slightly as a result to about 45.5 percent by the end of September 2009.

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Major Thailand-China business conference next month

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