Indonesia, VN, Myanmar offers SME opportunities
Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia are attractive for Thai investors, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, economists and business leaders said yesterday.Aat Pisanwanich, dean of economics at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said Yangon was the most appealing region in Myanmar for Thai investors, especially SMEs engaged in Thai restaurants, spas, hotels and tourism. Mandalay is another big city that could accommodate investment from Thailand.
The jewellery industry should check out opportunities in precious-stone cutting, he told the "TMB Borderless on Stage 2012" seminar.
The food industry may also look at Dawei in the southern part of the country where a deep-sea port will be constructed by Ital-Thai, he said. SMEs in the textile and furniture industries should also think about moving their production base from Thailand to Myanmar to take advantage of lower labour costs.
The threats are inadequate electricity supplies, poor telecommunication service, high logistics costs, the remaining trade sanctions and low consumer income. "However, if Thai firms wait until everything is put in place, they will not be able to compete with other foreign firms that are now moving into the country," he said.
Another interesting country is Indonesia, where the middle class comprises about 50 million people now and is estimated to grow to 150 million over five years out of a population of 250 million currently. So the market there is huge, Aat said.
Aswin Techajareonvikul, president of Berli Jucker (BJC), said Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) were more interesting for Thai SMEs than Indonesia, where there are already large players and Thai firms may find it hard to compete.
BJC now has glass-bottle and canned-food plants and a product-distribution operation in Vietnam. Over the next three years, it will focus on expanding its business in CLMV.
The firm could help Thai SMEs that want to market their products in these countries, where the combined population is more than 170 million.
The CLMV market is growing as they have young populations that want to consume more and adopt new lifestyles, Aswin said.
Thai companies should go into trading in small countries such as Laos and Cambodia instead of manufacturing, he added.
Wichitra Chalermchaichana, an economist at the university, said Thai restaurants could enter Vietnam as Thai cuisine is gaining popularity. A few Thai restaurants have already opened branches there.
However, land prices in prime areas are very high, so SMEs may choose to form joint ventures with local partners. Thai SMEs are expected to take advantage of the AEC, which will come into fruition in 2015, she added.