August 17, 2013 00:00 By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
The International Trade Promotion Department is putting emphasis on Myanmar as it promotes more trade and investment in Asean.
After opening a Trade and Investment Consultant Centre in Yangon recently, Srirat Rastapana, director-general of the department, said her agency would continue to encourage Thai companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, to do more business in Myanmar.
"Myanmar is one of the most interesting markets among neighbouring countries because of the influx of foreign direct investment since it began taking steps towards democracy. Still, there is room to grow for Thai businesses, especially SMEs, as Myanmar is close to Thailand and [the two nations have a] good relationship," Srirat said.
She said her department targeted exports to Asean to increase by at least 10 per cent each year, with a focus on Myanmar. Of the four countries bordering Thailand, growth in exports to Myanmar was 18 per cent in last year.
The department has cooperated with the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce to train young businesspeople on penetrating Myanmar. It is This MBA course targeting 200 students a year. It is also cooperating with the Thai Bankers Association to set up a similar body in Myanmar. Many trade exhibitions to promote Thai products are also organised in many cities in Myanmar.
Prajuab Supinee, director of the Thai Trade Centre in Yangon, urged Thai SMEs to penetrate Myanmar quickly while the country is still fertile ground, as many foreign enterprises have already started to cash in on this market.
He said Thai SMEs should not wait for completion of the Dawei project to get into Myanmar. The country has many sectors of interest to Thai SMEs, including agriculture, trading, manufacturing and services.
According to Commerce Ministry data, Thai exports to Myanmar grew 24 per cent Year on year in the first half of the year amounted to US$1.91 billion (Bt59.7 billion). Major export products are oil, beverage, machinery, cement, chemical goods, textiles, cosmetics, wheat flour, processed food, and automobiles and parts.