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China’s footprint in Thailand raises concern

A huge influx of cheaper Chinese goods could defeat local producers, especially Thai SMEs with weak financial status, said Manapol Poosomboon, a vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries.

Boris Sullivan

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As China takes advantage of its free trade agreement with Asean and lower tariffs in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Burma, trade throughout the region will be spurred by its dramatically expanding footprint in Thailand.

China City Complex, a 45-billion-baht investment by the Yunnan-based state enterprise Ashima Yunnan Cultural Industry Group, was launched with great fanfare on Tuesday.

It will include Thai-China International Products City, Thailand’s biggest wholesale centre for consumer and lifestyle goods, with 2 million square metres of retail space on Bang Na-Trat Road. Its first phase will open in October next year.

A huge influx of cheaper Chinese goods could defeat local producers, especially Thai SMEs with weak financial status, said Manapol Poosomboon, a vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries.

“I am afraid that cheaper Chinese products will be legally imported to Thailand once the Bang Na centre is opened, together with Chinese sellers. Currently, Chinese imports are brought in by Thai traders,”

said Manapol Poosomboon, a vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries.

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Thai-China International Products City, Thailand's biggest wholesale centre for consumer and lifestyle goods, with 2 million square metres of retail space on Bang Na-Trat Road. Its first phase will open in October next year.

Indeed, a model of the huge, 104,000 sq m, 45 billion baht US$1.47 billion China City trading complex on the outskirts of Bangkok was the centre of attention at the 1st Asean-China Business Conference – a one-day meeting in Bangkok on Tuesday January 19. The trade centre alone is expected to create an estimated 70,000 new jobs when it is completed in two years, said Thailands deputy commerce minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot, in opening the meeting.

Chinese enterprises are boosting their investments in Thailand in a big way

The first of three joint ventures with Thai partners being for a sprawling wholesale trading centre worth 6.2 billion yuan (Bt28.8 billion) near Bangkok.

The project will be officially launched today.

This project will be followed by a Bt3-billion wholesale trading centre in the northern province of Chiang Mai and a Bt5-billion auto-tyre manufacturing project in the eastern province of Rayong.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will preside over today’s ceremony to unveil the Thai-China International City project, in which a 700,000-square-metre trading centre will be built on Bang Na-Trat Highway near Bangkok. The centre will serve as a major re-export centre for Chinese-made products in the Asean market of 580 million consumers

“China is willing to make joint efforts with the Association of Southeast AsianNations (ASEAN) member states to push forward the China-ASEAN strategic partnership to a higher level,” spokesman Hong Lie said at regular press briefing.

It is the joint mission of Asian countries to promote regional economic integration and maintain the growth momentum of the Asian economy, Hong noted.

Hong’s remarks came in reply to a reporter’s question about the upcoming China-ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting.

China and ASEAN foreign ministers will meet Jan. 24-25 in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province. According to Hong, foreign ministers of ASEAN member states will also inspect the Kunming-Bangkok Road before having their meeting in Kunming, capital of Yunnan.

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