BBL to focus on resurgent China, bank chairman says
Bangkok Bank will continue to explore |opportunities in China, where it has a strong network with four branches, now that the country's economy is back on the road to recovery, chairman Chatri Sophonpanich |said yesterday.China's gross domestic product should be able to grow 7 per cent this year. However, there is still a yawning gap between the wealthy and the poor, he said.
Beijing is improving its administration to ease the high cost of living.
Bangkok Bank's future in China lies in supporting Thai companies' trade and investment rather than local businesses.
The rebound in China should drive demand for Thai merchandise. Exports in the second half of 2012 expanded nicely by 18 per cent. The shipment momentum along with the rosy outlook for agricultural and industrial products will help push up GDP in 2013 by 6 per cent, Chatri said.
The political situation is not a cause for concern or a risk factor for the Thai economy because its fundamentals have proved resilient despite coups or the changing of governments, he said.
Although the Bt300 daily wage has given industry a tough time, it is an essential policy to help raise the standards of workers in Thailand, he added.
It might be better for the government to help affected businesses in the first phase. However, it should take no more than six months for industries to cope with the higher wage. "The adjustment of enterprises depends on the ability of operators. Some have raised product prices, but purchasing power is not reduced," he said.
The impact of the Bt300 daily wage might not be serious.
Some companies have decided to close their plants, but that was because they were undercapitalised, Chatri said.
"Our customers have been affected as well, but they were not so many that it [raised the rate of] non-performing loans. Some customers might delay repaying debt but we still believe they can adapt their businesses soon," he said.
Manpower substitution - Myanmar migrants for Thais - is not the solution because the skills of Thai workers are better, he added.