February 25, 2014 00:00 By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
Stanley Kang, chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand, said yesterday that if Thailand needed to appoint an interim and middleman government to defuse the escalating political crisis, this should be acceptable to foreign investors.
After resolving the conflict, Thailand could hold a democratic election so that the country could get a new government. The JFCCT represents 28 foreign chambers of commerce.
Kang told The Nation that he did not want to see people hurt any more. Explosions in Bangkok and a few other places have damaged the Kingdom’s image among travellers and businesspeople.
Some businesspeople have already relocated their meetings from Bangkok to other countries such as Singapore.
“They need to avoid visiting Thailand now,” he said. After a bomb blast in the Ratchadamri area, which is near Ratchaprasong, and Pathum Wan district, where many offices of foreigners are located, some foreign businesspeople have found it difficult to work and worry about their travelling.
Everything should be fixed on the table by setting up a meeting for all parties, Kang said. There should be talks and compromises, as protesting would not help end the conflict.
Many foreign communities in Thailand are also worried about the country’s ability to move on to the Asean Economic Community 2015.
Because of the political unrest, many foreign investors have hesitated to expand and start new businesses here.
Although Thailand can be a centre of Asean, the prolonged political unrest has caused jumpiness among the business community, Kang said.
However, foreign furniture traders still have enough confidence to a trade fair next month. Verachai Kanuvanicha-yanont, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries’ Furniture Industry Club, said that although some foreign buyers had inquired about the situation, no buyers had cancelled their reservations for the Thailand International Furniture Fair (TIFF) in Bangkok from March 12-16 at Impact Muang Thong Thani.
Some foreign traders such as those from the European Union may be concerned about the political conflict in Thailand, but so far no one has withdrawn a booking.
About 600 foreign traders are expected to join the TIFF this year, the same attendance as last year.
Duangkamol Jiambutr, deputy director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, said the department and furniture traders expected Thai furniture exports to grow by 5 per cent to US$1.3 billion (Bt42 billion) this year. Last year, furniture and parts exports increased 8.34 per cent to $1.23 billion.
The top five export markets by growth were Russia (210 per cent), Vietnam (77.42 per cent), Myanmar (50.59 per cent), Malaysia (38.35 per cent) and South Africa (36.18 per cent). To promote the growth of the furniture industry, Thai companies say they have adopted creativity and designs mixed with Thai style and uniqueness to serve the demands of overseas markets, while also developing environmentally friendly furniture.