Sunday, September 02, 2012

Thailand, Asean focus of US investment

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Asean, and Thailand in particular, has been highlighted as a key investment zone for American companies, thanks to the region's economic strength and integration, as well as the reopening of Myanmar.

According to a survey of Asean American Chambers of Commerce (Amcham) conducted in cooperation with Amcham in Washington and released in the presence of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday, 92 per cent of members are positive or very positive about the outlook for Thailand and Asean.

"The economic resilience makes US companies continue to regard Thailand as one of the world's top investment locations," said Joe Mannix, president of Amcham Thailand, who acknowledged the country's speedy recovery from the 2011 floods.

While 65 per cent of the 700 members in Thailand plan to expand investment here over the next year thanks to the country's economic strength, members throughout Asean are upbeat on the regional grouping's integration and the reopening of Myanmar, Mannix said.

In the Asean survey, two-thirds of members said they plan to invest in the region, though they expressed some scepticism over the region's ability to achieve integration by 2015. In this regard, Mannix hoped that Thailand could play a role in pushing its fellow Asean members to achieve the goal.

One-third of US companies in Thailand currently export or are considering exporting products to Myanmar, Mannix said, adding that at the close of 2012 these companies' investments in Thailand would reach US$40 billion.

Asean is now the fourth-largest export market to the US and the fifth-largest supplier. The US is now Thailand's third-largest partner in terms of trade and investment.

At the event, hosted to demonstrate US companies' appreciation to the prime minister, Yingluck promised to improve the investment environment through a reduction of corruption and red tape, and by providing "the best protection against natural disasters". She encouraged the companies to grow their business in Thailand to boost the ranking in terms of trade and investment to No 1.

Overall, the Amcham survey showed that Asean countries provide a comfortable environment for foreign companies.

A total of 90 per cent of respondents expected their trade and investment in Asean to increase over the next five years. The rise in trade and investment is good news for Asean workers. Sixty per cent of surveyed companies expect their Asean workforce to increase over the next two years.

The reason for increasing business activities include the availability of market access, available credit, infrastructure improvements, improved political stability, personal security and positive sentiments towards the US.

Overall, the survey showed that Asean countries provide a comfortable environment for foreign companies.

Yet, corruption remains the biggest concern for American business operating in Asean.-Asia News Network (September 01, 2012)

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