Name : Nattawin Phongsphetrarat
Position : Vice President of Thai Business Association of Myanmar
Please explain to our readers about Thai Business Association of Myanmar.
Thai Business Association of Myanmar (TBAM) is the association of the businessmen who have established the businesses in Myanmar. It was formed since 1997, right now we have around 240 members which are working in various sectors. We work closely with The Thai trade under the Ministry of Commerce.
How has investment from Thailand contributed to Myanmar economic development?
Thailand is the four largest investor in Myanmar. The total accumulated number is around $7.2 billion. Investment from Thailand amounted to $423 million in 2016-2017 alone, according to DICA.
What is your opinion on trade and investment between Thailand and Myanmar?
We see great potential. We believe that there are a lot more investments that can be done. We expect the close collaboration not only from the private sector but also from the government side. We believe that if Thailand and Myanmar government develop a good platform, the private sector will be able to extend more businesses especially in the five areas: telecommunication, manufacturing, infrastructure, hotel and tourism, and agriculture (sea food and food processing). These are the key five areas which we believe that will be extending much more, from the business point of view.
How much influence current issues in Rakhine State have on Thailand investments?
We believe that Thai investors have got very good information through royal embassy. We understand that this is an internal issue. Myanmar government has been working on this issue carefully and in a very proper way. We do believe that the Rakhine issue is only a short term issue and we see continued supporting to promote the investments from Thailand in Myanmar.
How does the economic downturn in Myanmar affect Thailand businesses and investment opportunities?
We would say that in the last two years, the economy in Myanmar is actually not so bad, especially between Thailand and Myanmar. So we should maintain not only the investments but also the trade quite alright. I believe that the export from Myanmar to Thailand has been increasing for 45% comparing year to year. So, I would say that we are doing quite alright even the economy is not doing great. We still believe that it will be doing better and better especially after the new laws and regulations coming out from the government.
What is your view on current g o v e r n m e n t b e i n g t r u l y democratic?
Actually democracy is a great system. We believe that this is the system that is fair for everybody. It would also be supporting the businesses as well. The government would be able to expedite the process. So the investors can come and make successful investments in Myanmar.
What are the differences working in Myanmar and other countries?
It is quite different. We do understand because Myanmar just open up the country for the last 6 to 7 years. So there are lots of laws and regulations that have to be prepared for the businesses. The financial system in Myanmar is in progress. Logistic infrastructure is underway. We understand that there are a lot of obstacles. At the same time, all the businesspeople are facing the same problems. But there are lots of opportunities not only for foreign investors but for Thailand investors as well to work in Myanmar. From a business standpoint, what are the biggest challenges facing Thailand businesses in the foreseeable future? We hope that the government policy will be more and more business friendly, and also the implementation of laws and regulations would be increased. We foresee that the infrastructure will be a key problem. Human resource is one of the key problems that has to be addressed. The government and private sectors have to work together to overcome this problem. I would say these are the key problems.
What are your suggestions to increase Thailand investments into Myanmar?
We hope to have more close collaboration with government and private sectors. Thai Business Association of Myanmar is working closely with Federation of Thai industry and also the Chamber of Commerce from Thailand. We have a lot of investors coming from Thai who wants to invest in Myanmar. The information from Myanmar such as what are the business options and who can be a good partner of our business from Thailand that can work closely together to develop the business here should be transparent for Thailand investors.