We were pleased to welcome Bradley Jones, Director of Trade & Investment, British Embassy, Bangkok, to British Expertise on Tuesday 7th February 2012. The meeting provided two hours of fascinating debate about the background and opportunities for British business in Thailand and Cambodia. There was also mention of Laos and some questions about Myanmar.
Bradley had been in post for 15 months and has a team of twelve to cover the region. Some highlights from the meeting follow.
The economy in Thailand is growing by 4% per annum and the country is 19th in the World Bank’s list for “Ease of Doing Business”. Corporate tax levels were reduced from 30% to 23% on 1 January 2012 and are due a further reduction to 20% on 1 January 2013.
676 deaths and £2bn of damage had been attributed to last year’s floods. There is now much investment in flood mitigation and for the longer term to develop the infrastructure. Inevitably the Government’s focus has had a short term crisis management focus and there’s yet to be significant evidence of its longer term strategy. Certain Thais in Dubai are influential.
The highly regarded King has been in hospital for 2 years. There’s likely to be a lengthy interruption to normal business when he dies. Two senior level UK visits are planned to Thailand in 2012.
The country is emerging from aid dependency. Its population is small (6 million) and it still has a weak institutional and legal framework. There is only small amount of British business in Cambodia at the moment, but this is increasing. Corruption issues remain a significant hurdle.
Bradley can signpost enquiries re Laos. Hydrocarbons, hydropower and tourism are the key areas of trade for the country. It is hosting an ASEANA summit in November and is due to join the World Trade Organisation later in 2012.
For more information contact Richard Pelly at British Expertise.