Belgian firms eye stake in Thai infrastructure
Matching session with local firms held
Belgian enterprises have shown strong interest in pouring investment into Thailand across a number of sectors, mainly transport and infrastructure development under the government's Bt2.2-trillion plans, and the medical and energy fields, while Thai companies also foresee better collaboration in two-way investment.
This was the outcome of the third day of Prince Philippe of Belgium's visit to Thailand, during which he led more than 200 leading Belgian enterprises in a business-matching session with Thai companies in Bangkok.
Wald Kerschot, general manager sales, Asia-Pacific of OTN Systems, said Thailand had many projects that were very interesting for Belgian enterprises to participate in.
OTN Systems, a telecommunications firm that is already taking part in the Purple and Red line mass-transit projects, is expected to participate in more projects under the government's Bt2.2-trillion infrastructure development plan.
To promote more foreign investment and participation in infrastructure development, Kerschot called on the Thai government to speed up projects and ensure there are no delays, so that every company involved can proceed with greater confidence.
In addition, he said Thailand had the capacity to become the centre of Asean investment, as well as a centre of wider Asian investment.
The planned free-trade agreement (FTA) between Thailand and the European Union should help promote more trade and investment between Belgium and the Kingdom, he added.
Dr Pierre Rigaux, chief executive officer of STX-Med, said his company is considering setting up a manufacturing plant for medicines in Thailand. The country would be the first overseas base for the firm outside the EU and the United States.
"Thailand has great potential to serve as a production and distribution centre for the Asean and Asian markets, including China, Japan and South Korea. The FTA should facilitate more investment to Thailand," he said.
The company plans to spend €5 million (Bt190 million) as initial investment capital in forming a joint venture with a local company. The investment plan, including market study, financing and investment approval, should be completed within two years, he added.
STX-Med is an innovator in migraine medicines and special treatments. The firm will soon launch its products in the Thai market under the planned joint venture.
Koenraad Van Huffel, chief operating officer of BNP Paribas Corporate and Investment Banking, said many Belgian and other European investors had requested more credit from the bank for expanding their businesses to Asian countries, including Thailand.
More investment from western countries will be seen in emerging Asia, he said, pointing out that the growth rate of loans to European firms for investment in Asia has grown by 5-10 per cent a year.
On the other hand, investment from Thailand to the EU has not increased of late, but this would hopefully change, he added. Pailin Chuchottaworn, CEO and president of PTT, foresees more collaboration between Thai and Belgian firms in energy development, in particular alternative energy, as Belgium has advanced technology and know-how in this field.
Belgian firms can expand their business in Thailand in alternative- and bio-energy development, and PTT is very interested in collaborating with them as they have such high technology, he said.
Transport Minister Chatchart Sithiphan said many Belgian firms had expressed their eagerness to participate in the country's Bt2.2-trillion infrastructure development project.
Linkages in relation to railway, port, logistics and telecommunication development have been highlighted for Belgian companies to invest in Thailand, he said.
Belgium has great potential to help Thailand under the infrastructure development project, since Antwerp is one of the largest seaports in the world and the country is at the centre of the EU, the minister said.