Thailand remains ‘top choice’ for Japanese manufacturers moving from China

BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network):Thailand remains the first choice for Japanese manufacturers shifting their operations from China, members of the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry, and Banking told a press conference on Thursday (March 16), following a joint meeting between about 120 Thai and Japanese executives in Bangkok.

The meeting was co-hosted by the joint standing committee – which comprises the Thai Bankers' Association, the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Chamber of Commerce – and the Japan Business Federation.

The meeting aimed to strengthen bilateral ties and provide a forum where participants could share economic insights and find more opportunities for collaboration.

Japan still regards Thailand as its core partner in South-East Asia, said Federation of Thai Industries chairman Kriengkrai Thiennukul.

However, he said Japanese businesspeople now view Thailand as a “co-creation partner”, rather than a manufacturing base. As a result, Japanese companies are looking for cooperation, which will help many Thai companies advance to a higher level.

Thai businesses need to be well-equipped with advanced knowledge, digital technology, and skilled workers, while the government needs to offer reliable laws and regulations to attract Japanese investment, Kriengkrai said.

"Compared to our neighbours, Thailand has lost price competitiveness in terms of land, labour, and other costs, such as energy prices. However, Japan continues to view us as their first choice for relocation outside of China. This is due to other factors. We have advanced infrastructure, clear government supportive measures, and, most importantly, we have strong trust in one another," Kriengkrai said.

Labour-intensive and high energy consuming industries may no longer be Thailand's primary growth engines, he added.

New industries, particularly green and clean technology, renewable energy, biotech, pharmaceutics, robotics, automation, and agriculture, will provide opportunities for collaboration with Japanese companies, he said.

Thailand's Bio-Circular-Green economic model has met Japan's demand for sustainable development while also contributing to the global trend of low-carbon society, Kriengkrai said.

Japanese companies lauded Thailand's government for its rapid expansion of free trade agreement negotiations with new territories, including the European Union, saying this will benefit both Thais and Japanese.

Japan is still concerned that Thailand's regulations are an impediment for international companies that want to do business here.

Saroj Chayavivatkul, vice chairman of Thai Chamber of Commerce, said executives from Japan and Thailand also used the meeting to discuss the economic environment, potential investments for both countries, strategic methods to promote bilateral trade, and the development of financial services and products.

Kobsak Duangdee, secretary general of the Thai Bankers' Association said that the meeting was attended by Thai and Japanese experts who shared very detailed data that could be used to enhance cooperation.

Krienkrai said the joint standing committee and the Japan Business Federation signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen collaboration at every level during the meeting.

Becoming a co-creation partner is another step towards sustaining the growth of Thailand’s digital green economy, he said.

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Thailand , Japan , trade , manufacturing


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