Yingluck pitches Thai stability in HK
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday assured senior Hong Kong officials and investors that Thailand now was economically and politically stable, thanks to her government's reconciliation and stimulus polices.
Economic expansion in Thailand this year is predicted at 5-6 per cent, while the government is actively wooing foreign direct investment especially in high-technology and green businesses.
To sharpen the country's competitive edge, Bt2.2 trillion will be invested in infrastructure development over seven years. That is equivalent to 17 per cent of gross domestic product. About Bt350 billion will be spent on water-management projects.
A motorway will be built to the border with Myanmar to connect with the planned Dawei deep-sea port. Thailand has positioned itself as the regional connectivity hub.
The prime minister met with Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying during her official visit to talk about cooperation in many areas. Thailand and Hong Kong are keen on jointly promoting Thai rice in the city, as there is potential there to buy more rice from the Kingdom.
Thailand is a popular destination for Hong Kong travellers. Both sides will promote the growth of tourism between them.
Thai Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and Gregory So, Hong Kong's secretary for commerce and economic development, signed the Hong Kong-Thailand Cooperation Arrangement on Strengthening Trade and Economic Relations.
The agreement covers the promotion of trade, services and investment; exchange of information and collaboration in trade regulations; collaboration on promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises, tourism and research and development; cooperation on logistics and transport; development of human resources; protection of intellectual property; and advancement of the creative economy and other fields.
Thailand's economic team, led by Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul, Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Boonsong and Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt met with leading bankers and investors in Hong Kong. These included Soo Thiam Tan from AIA, Mark McCombe from BlackRock, Fan Gongsheng from China Investment International (Hong Kong), Edmund Ng from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Christopher Chan from JPMorgan and Angus Hui from Schroders. The team invited them to invest in Thailand, particularly in the Bt2-trillion infrastructure scheme.
Hong Kong has been recognised as Asia's largest financial market and was ranked by the World Economic Forum as one of the financial and banking centres of the world.
Yingluck gave a compelling story of the economic stability of Thailand to boost the confidence of Hong Kong investors. The economy has been growing strongly. Last year, GDP growth was 6.4 per cent, up 0.1 percentage point from the previous year. Thailand targets GDP growth at 5-6 per cent this year, driven by stronger demand at home and abroad.
The country enjoyed a US$1.5-billion (Bt45-billion) current-account surplus for the first 11 months of last year. Its reserves of $181.6 billion are three times short-term foreign debts. Non-performing loans of banks stood at only 1.2 per cent as of November.
The government is diversifying markets for exports. Asean and other emerging regions are a key focus. To balance exports, the government is strengthening domestic demand via stimulus measures.