August 20, 2014 01:00 By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
Thai envoy seeks boost via matching
Nopporn Adchariyavanich, the Thai ambassador to Sri Lanka, will lead delegations to Thailand for business matching by the middle of next month to promote trade and investment between the two countries.
The focus will be more on promoting Thai investment in Sri Lanka, as that country provides plentiful promise for Thai businesses to expand.
The first mission is scheduled from September 9-10. Sri Lanka’s leading retailer Cargills (Ceylon) will meet with Thailand’s leading conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group for discussions on the agricultural industry.
Cargills (Ceylon) is involved in the food industry. Its continuing investment in retail has made Cargills Food City the largest retailer in Sri Lanka in all categories.
The second mission is set from September 15-16 for representatives from the Thai-Sri Lanka Business Council to engage in business matching in various industries and services in Bangkok.
Nopporn said yesterday that Thai agri-industrial enterprises should invest and trade more in Sri Lanka because of the high demand in that market.
Sri Lanka is also the gateway to nearby countries such as Maldives and countries with which it has free-trade agreements.
“Sri Lanka has emerging economic growth. Its economy has expanded at least 7 per cent during [each of] the past four years. It has high demand for farm production, but still less investment from Thailand and other countries in manufacturing.”
With their high expertise in many industries, Thai investors should consider Sri Lanka, he said.
Sri Lanka has clinched free-trade agreements with India and Pakistan and is negotiating for one with China.
Sri Lanka is also a member of Bimstec, as is Thailand. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation is an international organisation talking about free trade with a group of countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia. They are Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
Nopporn urged Thai investors to look for opportunities not only in Asean but also in other emerging countries such as Sri Lanka because of high purchasing power and high demand, which is drawing investment for development.
Sri Lanka has an open environment and a similar culture to Thailand’s as a Buddhist country. Thai enterprises could find joint ventures or invest under Board of Investment incentives there.
Sri Lanka also has cheap labour compared with countries in Asean. The Sri Lankan government has a policy to promote foreign direct investment in five industries plus one service – trading, maritime, information technology, manufacturing, energy and tourism.
According to the embassy, investment from Thailand in Sri Lanka was worth Bt386 million last year, mainly in the textile and jewellery industries, and more recently in hotel accommodations and hotel management.