THAILAND - Economy
Chairman, The Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand
Stanley Kang has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from National Taiwan University and later obtained an MBA from Pacifc Western University. He is Senior Manager at Tuntex Textile (Thailand) Company Limited and Chairman of Vision and Power Company Limited. He is also Chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand.
In the past, our vision was to promote investment and trade in Thailand. In the last two years, many things have changed, and we are now increasingly integrated with the world. Today, we are changing our vision, not just promoting the investment and export business. We are now assisting Thai business people with trade and investment in different countries, because we have connectivity there. Some Thai companies should be globalized, and the Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce is the best partner to help them invest and become more bilateral. Secondly, our organization has an interest in advancing the development of the Thailand economy as a whole. In 2015, we will present our positioning paper to the Prime Minister on November 25th. In the past, we were working case by case but it is our obligation and duty as economic stakeholders to secure our investments and ensure that our business here can continue to grow the overall Thailand economy. Therefore, we should not just advocate and lobby on certain issues to protect our investments, we should also be looking at the wider scope of the Thai economy.
Our position paper this year will be focused on making more input on our situation for the future economic structure. The positioning paper is a long-term process, and we believe in an open society. We believe in economic supply and demand. We believe that the more protection you give, the less competitiveness you are going to have. In 2015, our topic is our economy and how we build a future. In 2014, we talked about competitiveness. Last year, we had things happening in Thailand and there was a lot of violence in the street. The military intervened and took over; therefore, we had to learn how to talk to the military. The military is bringing management and stability to the nation but on the economic side, they come to us for a lot of advice. I have told our team that we should continue to present a white paper every year, this is now a mission and vision of ours.
Currently, we have five committees, each with a committee chair and each working on a different issue. We have the international trade committee, the ICT committee, the education and skill committee, the tourism committee and the SME committee. These are the five basic pillars of the Thai economy that we want to develop. In international trade, you can no longer just work alone; you have to be one of the players in the world; therefore, international trade is important. For example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was just recently signed, and Thailand is not included. Our country should be securing this position, and we should be at the negotiating table. It has never been easy to negotiate, but doing so is crucial and we want to support this process and get Thailand into the TPP. Thailand is part of ASEAN, and we are advising the country on how to negotiate its position and support the private sector. There are also many regional trade and nation-to-nation FTAs that are factors in our discussions with international trade committees. As a free trade negotiation, we need to keep our expertise in the private sector to ensure that we are part of the voice to ensure our talent and people are negotiating our requirements for the next 10, 20, or 30 years.
The chamber’s function will be changed. The vision will not be changed, but the mission will be changed due to a different economic period. Thailand has a strong local market, and between the 1960s and 1980s people came here to produce and sell in the local market. In the 1980s, commercial interests also came to export. Thailand is represented everywhere. In the 1990s, when China emerged, a lot of labor-intensive business went to China. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, neighboring countries were opened up such as Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. So, in South-East Asia before the 1980s, there were far fewer places to invest; Americans could not go to communist countries, so a lot of people came to Thailand at that time. Today, there are two things that have changed: the world became more connected and technology has developed. Two decades years ago, I had to write and fax a message from my office. Clients had to make an appointment with me and then we had to make sure that we did not miss the meeting, which was fixed due to the complicated follow-up process. Today, technology has changed our lives and even the communist countries are changing. People are sharing information and even the most basic people are asking how their life can get better. Politics are still there, but everyone is now concerned with economics—even China is more concerned with economics. In the last five years, there has been a lot of conversation about AEC and the direction to go, but it must be different from the EU. When you are together you are somebody, but when you are all by yourself you are nobody. Even for America, even if you are the largest economy in the world you are nobody without partners, which is why President Obama is pushing so hard on the TPP. Even though there is difficulty this is the trend, and we have to understand where we are in the world; we cannot go against the trends.
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