General Prayuth Chan-ocha
I am pleased to once again, offer my congratulations to the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) on the publication of another annual handbook, this time a special 70th Anniversary issue celebrating 70 years of promoting bilateral trade and investment in Thailand. When reflecting on the accomplishments of the BCCT, it is befitting to consider the notion of "the longer we look back, the further we can look forward". Indeed the BCCT has been established for 70 years, but the strong traditions of Anglo-Thai commerce date back to the 16th century. In view of this unique history, the BCCT plays an essential role in combining this in-depth knowledge about Thailand with the aspirations of tomorrow's business leaders, to further advance one of Thailand's closest and most important trading partnerships.
The genuine ties of friendship between the Thai and British peoples are reflected in the high regard for the BCCT by the Thai and British business community. I would like to thank the BCCT for continuing to promote Thailand to British industry, and for rendering unwavering support to the Thai enonomy over the years. I very much welcome the commitment the United Kingdom is making to ensure that we remain strong trading partners, and look forward to many more years of this successful partnership.
Congratulations once again to the BCCT on the publication of its Annual Handbook and Directory of Members for 2016. I wish the BCCT and all of its members' success and prosperity.
Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.)
I congratulate the British Chamber of Commerce in Thailand on 70 successful years of partnership with a country that has witnessed extraordinary change over this period. Throughout, the BCCT has provided an invaluable forum to bring together its members in order to exchange ideas, to network, and to build partnerships founded on trust and integrity.
The history of South-East Asia has not been without its political ups and downs since 1946. But the overriding trend has been one of deep, positive transformation, characterised by a willingness to do things differently and to harness opportunity. There is no reason to believe this will change in the coming years. I am keen to see British entrepreneurs and businesses continue to play an important part in the next, transformative period of Thailand's and South East Asia's future.
The British government will be putting its heart and soul into helping UK businesses make the most of these exciting opportunities. My Ministerial colleagues and I will engage in a cross-government effort to encourage 100,000 new British exporters strive to achieve £1 trillion of exports by 2020. This is a bold ambition and the BCCT will have a direct and vital role in this, as part of the UK's Overseas Business Network Initiative.
BCCT is already at the cutting edge of this initiative. The Chamber's Business Services team is already providing valuable advice to aspiring new UK exporters to Thailand. The team is fortunate to be able to draw on the knowledge of the extensive and experienced membership of BCCT. New exporters are being supported by the Chamber to overcome some of the initial psychological and practical barriers to export. The BCCT offers a guiding hand as its advises on how business is done in Thailand, where opportunities really lie, and how best to convert potential deals into real business wins.
This matters as much in 2016 as it did in 1946. The opportunities look different, but the core principles of building trust, accessing useful networks, and being sure to offer products and services that customers want remain the same. The BCCT has 70 years of success behind it. I believe the next 70 years can be even more productive, to the benefit of both Thailand and the UK.
The Rt. Hon. Lord Maude of Horsham
H.E. Mark Kent
Trade and investment sits at the very heart of the UK-Thailand relationship. This has been true ever since the East India Company's ship, The Globe, set sail from the UK to the Kingdom of Siam in 1612. This is shared heritage of which we can be proud. It has opened doors which have changed the lives of many, not least the 50,000 British nationals who currently enjoy Thailand as their chosen home.
For the last 70 years, successive British Ambassadors to Thailand have drawn on the collective wisdom of the British Chamber of Commerce in Thailand. I am no exception. As I approach my last few months in Bangkok, I would like to thank the BCCT and its membership publicly for their enduring support, sound advice, and good humour.
Like all my predecessors, my time in Bangkok has brought challenges but also considerable opportunity. I am delighted that we have seen significant new investment from UK companies already established in Thailand, employing and training several thousand Thais. We have also seen some first-class British companies decide to set up in Thailand. Many have taken advantage of the support of the Thai Board of Investment, which, alongside the Thai Board of Trade, has been a good friend of the UK. Their support is welcome, and I encourage all BCCT members to look out for any new incentives on offer as the Thai authorities look at new ways to attract investment into Thailand.
The past four years has brought several other important developments in the UK-Thailand partnership. We have launched the Newton Fund, to which the UK and Thailand will each contribute up to 100 million Thai Baht (£2 million) annually over five years. The Newton programme is bringing together British and Thai experts to find practical solutions to problems, such as infectious disease, which could potentially benefit everyone. Our hope is that some of Newton Fund programmes will open up new opportunities for British business in Thailand.
We have also seen a range of new services introduced under the UK visa system. It is now possible to get a decision on an application for a UK visa within 24 hours under the paid-for Super Priority Visa scheme. 96% of Thais who apply for a UK visa are successful.
And the BCCT has seen some major changes recently. Membership is on the up and the new Business Services team is doing a fantastic job of providing advice to UK companies looking to expand their business into Thailand. This is in addition to the Chamber's traditional work of giving its members the chance to network, keep up to date with latest business and regulatory trends, and simply enjoy each others' company. Two highlights for any British Ambassador to Thailand are the BCCT's annual Life and Style Party and the Christmas Lunch.
I wish the BCCT every success for the future. Here's to the next 70 years.
H.E. Mark Kent
On behalf of the Thailand Board of Investment, I would like to congratulate the Chamber on the publication of the 2016 handbook which certainly presents successful stories of the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) and its members.
Our strong relationship and mutually beneficial co-operative efforts have been evident on so many levels. The BOI undertakes several missions to the United Kingdom (UK) to provide useful information on doing business in Thailand while many representatives of the Thai business community visit the UK to explore business opportunities and to look for possible cooperation.
Even with the current global economic downturn, Thailand is still doing well in the global rankings which can be seen in the UNCTAD World Investment Report which ranks Thailand as the 8th top prospective host economy in the world for 2014-2016. And I am delighted to report that there were 60 UK investment projects applying for BOI promotion with a total value of 24 billion baht in 2014 which made UK investment among the major investors in Thailand. We at the BOI would like to take this opportunity to express our great appreciation for this strong confidence and belief in our flourishing future.
Thailand is now poised to take the next step to the knowledge-based economy and advance to the ranks of upper income countries. Building on this perspective, the BOI will focus more on investment which supports knowledge-based and high-technology industries and will develop policies which support Thailand as the hub of ASEAN. As the UK is a leader in high-technology, I am confident that you will find Thailand is the right place to grow your business in Asia. Also with strong support from BCCT, as stated in the book's title "United Kingdoms- Partners in Progress", the road to achieve Thailand's national development goal is bright.
We are very grateful for the BCCT's continued dedication in promoting understanding and investment in Thailand and hope that our close collaboration will be enhanced. Let me reaffirm our commitment to fulfill our key role in creating the best business environment for investors. You will find that Thailand is ready to be your partner for growth.
We wish the Chamber and its members prosperity in all future endeavors.
Mrs. Hirunya Suchinai
It has been an exciting year for the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), as the Global Business Network has continued to grow and expand worldwide. It is vital that businesses explore new export markets to continue to drive growth and economic recovery. The BCC, in partnership with the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand, is determined to support UK businesses on their journey.
Expanding into a new market can be a daunting experience for any business, particularly if this involves targeting emerging markets where the path of UK exporters is less well trodden.
To lay the groundwork for UK exporters, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Chamber network has been growing our Global Business Network to deliver real, practical and sustainable support to UK exporters around the world. No other business organisation has the same local and international footprint, infrastructure, or the entrepreneurial flexibility needed to help small and medium-sized companies meet their export and trade ambitions.
The Global Business Network is a dynamic and independent organisation with accredited Chambers in every nation and region of the UK, and in key markets around the world. The network represents thousands of businesses of all sizes and sectors globally, and is continuing to grow annually.
The success of this model is demonstrated by the fact that there are currently nearly 40 British Chambers of Commerce that are either accredited by the BCC or working towards accreditation, based in markets such as Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe. The British Chambers of Commerce accreditation is a rigorous process, meaning that accredited organisations have been proven to deliver services for UK exporters to a very high quality, trusted standard.
To help raise awareness of the untapped potential in high growth overseas markets, the BCC is also holding its fourth annual International Trade Conference this November in London.
The event will bring together some of the UK's most successful exporters, business leaders and trade associations, to highlight the export markets with the greatest growth potential over the next decade and equip UK businesses with the knowledge and contacts to successfully target them. Crucially, we want to be able to offer UK businesses the support and contacts they need to make the first steps in exploring new markets.
Members of the BCC Global Business Network will also be on hand to give practical advice to businesses on trading in their regions.
The best way to demystify the exporting process is to speak to businesses who have been through it themselves - both as first time exporters and as seasoned traders who have branched out into additional markets.
In this way business groups like the Chamber network are ideally placed to help businesses by offering advice, access to peers, help in avoiding unnecessary mistakes and costs, and offering access to those who have been there and done it before. As our Global Business Network continues to grow and develop more and more of this kind of support will be on hand.
On behalf of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade of Thailand, it is our pleasure to extend our heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to the chairman, directors and all members of the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) on the occasion of the publication of the "BCCT Handbook and Directory of Members 2016" entitled "United Kingdom-Partners in Progress".
The British Chamber of Commerce Thailand, as the oldest British Chamber of Commerce in Asia, has been working closely with Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade of Thailand in enhancing trade, investment and tourism relationships between the Kingdom of Thailand and United Kingdom. The BCCT is thus playing a key role in helping to deepen Thailand-British economic relations. The Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade of Thailand are grateful for the generous support, we have received from the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand in our mutual efforts to expand trade and business cooperation via the chamber's channel. I am confident that the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand will continue to work actively towards further strengthening trade and business ties between our two countries for the mutual benefit of our private sectors in the years to come and look forward to the continued support of the BCCT in both existing and future initiatives.
I am pleased to present the British Chamber of Commerce in Thailand 2016 Handbook and Directory of Membership. 2016 is the 70th anniversary of the BCCT and for this special occasion we are working on a range of activities and events throughout 2016 to celebrate this significant milestone.
For 2015 financially the Chamber has achieved its budget in most of the revenue categories. This together with control of expenses we will achieve more than our budgeted surplus. I am particularly pleased to see a steady increase in our membership.
The team is on track to achieve the KPI's set by the Board in terms of financial control and collections, membership development, staff attrition and events. The Board greatly appreciates all the efforts of the BCCT team on behalf of our members.
BCCT Groups have continued to be active in 2015 many of which have been led by Board members and have been busy arranging events, information dissemination and activities.
In the latter part of 2015 we undertook our membership survey. The results will further help us align the chamber to the membership needs.
The Overseas Business Network initiative (OBNi) is on track on its service deliverables. In 2015 BCCT Executive Director Greg Watkins took on the additional responsibility of directly managing this project.
Moving forward we are aware of the pressure for the UK government to reduce costs which in turn could impact the funding we receive. The OBNi steering group is working on plans to mitigate any impact as well as leveraging the expertise we have to add further value to our members.
The Chamber also continues its strong relationship with The British Embassy by regular working lunches, Embassy staff attending board meetings and working on special events and roadshows such as the "Taste of Britain 2015: Food is GREAT" campaign. I would also like to thank H.E Mr Mark Kent, the British Ambassador who will be leaving Thailand in September 2016 for his support to me and the whole of BCCT.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the membership and the Board for their continued support in 2015.
Finally my thanks to our 2015 Sustaining Partners Tesco Lotus, Ophir, GlaxoSmithKline, Property Care Services, Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC and Pattana School, and our Airline Partner British Airways as well as our supporting partners.
"2015 marks the fifth century of relations between the UK and Thailand. In 1610, the Directors of the British East India Company sent their ship "The Globe" to the Kingdom of Siam, bearing a letter from King Charles I. It landed in 1612 to a warm royal reception. And Thai representatives made an epic voyage of their own, visiting the Court of Charles II in 1684.
As a result of these brave voyages of discovery into the unknown our two countries are now celebrating more than 400 years of the free exchange of ideas, technology and culture.
It is this rich history that continues to offer British businesses opportunities across a variety of sectors ranging from agribusiness and food processing to consumer goods, renewable energy and professional services.
For instance CBI member company Standard Chartered has a 120 year history in Thailand with a presence since 1894 and more than 26 branches across the country.
Other member businesses such as Tesco Lotus, HSBC, Prudential, JLR, Clifford Chance and the PCS Group (part of the OCS Group) continue to invest and grow, serving Thai consumers and regional clients alike from their regional headquarters in-country.
It is this unmistakable sense of opportunity and discovery that exemplifies British-Thai business relations and I very much hope that 2016 will see even more UK investment into Thailand and Thai business investment into the UK.
Our CBI Beijing office is also working closely with members and business organisations across Thailand and the ASEAN region to promote bilateral trade and business.
I very much hope that 2016 will mark yet another new chapter in relations between the British Chamber of Commerce in Thailand and Thai business.
I would like to conclude by wishing the Chamber and its members the very best for the year ahead."
John Cridland, Director General, CBI
ASEAN is approaching the highly anticipated milestone – economic integration through the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). This will create a young and dynamic consumer market with over 622 million consumers, a burgeoning middle class with rising incomes and consumer expenditure of US$1.5 trillion. The AEC is an important milestone for ASEAN and as one ASEAN's founding members and one of its largest markets - an important year for Thailand.
In a recent report - Marketing to the Consumer, Euromonitor International forecast Thailand's education sector to be the fastest-growing consumer spending category over the next 15 years. This will be driven by Thailand's growing middle class that highly values education for its children, a greater focus on adult education and the development of the private sector. UK Companies need to be encouraged to exploit these types of tremendous opportunities in Thailand, opportunities where the UK has a natural competitive advantage.
The UK-ASEAN Business Council (UKABC) was established to highlight the exciting opportunities across Southeast Asia and we encourage UK companies to look at these diverse, high growth markets. Through the UKABC's signposting of in-depth information, relevant events and visits to the markets, British companies are in a better position to make informed choices about their investment and export strategies in this region. Our strategic delivery partners, like the BCCT, can then help UK companies realise their market entry strategy and go on to win business.
The UKABC is committed to work closely with the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand. The Chamber is uniquely placed in Thailand, through its extensive business networks, to provide practical support for UK companies entering the Thai market.
Through the BCCT-UKABC business network there has never been more information, connectivity and assistance available to UK companies looking to win business in Thailand. The strength of the strategic partnership between the BCCT and UKABC will help more UK companies consider, explore and invest in Thailand's economic potential.
I wish the BCCT and its members every success for what will be an exciting year ahead.
Mr. Kevan Watts