A land of promise for Thai investors

April 10, 2023 | 10:00
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Thailand has the chance to rank in the top five in terms of investing in Vietnam in the coming years. Tharabodee Serng-Adichaiwit, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, told Nguyen Thu about the efforts to push more trade between the two countries.

What have been some successful stories involving your members thus far in Vietnam?

Tharabodee Serng-Adichaiwit, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam
Tharabodee Serng-Adichaiwit, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam

Thailand has become the ninth-biggest foreign direct investment of Vietnam with nearly 690 projects and $13 billion so far. While Thai investment properly kicked off in the early 1990s here, Bangkok Bank started investment in Vietnam way back in 1961 with its first branch in the former Saigon.

We believe that with the growing potential of Vietnam itself and our continuous promotion to Thai investors, one day Thai investment could enter the top five. This will also to help the two countries to achieve the bilateral trade goal of $25 billion by 2025, and ultimately bring our two countries closer in sub-regional, regional, and multinational cooperation.

Most big Thai conglomerates already have a presence in Vietnam, such as C.P., SCG, Bangkok Bank, IVL, Red Bull, and more. Thai investment is also leading in industries here such as retail, petrochemicals, paper packaging, building materials, food and beverages, and renewable energy.

In addition, many of those Thai companies even plan for listing on Vietnam’s stock exchange when the situation allows. In addition, most importantly, all of them continue to look for expansion in Vietnam either by organic or non-organic growth. In the near future, we may see some big mergers or acquisitions by Thai investors.

We welcome dozens of Thai investors every month that are keen on investing here. With the current Thai economic condition of an ageing economy, Thailand no longer offers such good conditions for business. We strongly believe that more and more Thai companies need to look for new markets and new production bases outside Thailand and Vietnam definitely has become one of their top destinations in this region.

To assist our investors promptly and proactively in Vietnam, ThaiCham has been active as a bridge for them. With this close collaboration ecosystem, sharing experiences and support among our members, the business of our members has strong networking and is running smoother and more successfully. We can also assist Vietnam businesses to collaborate with Thai ones, either in Vietnam or Thailand.

Late last year we organised a survey to gauge the sentiment of members for 2023, and the result showed that over 70 per cent are more confident in the continuous development of Vietnam’s macroeconomic prospects. Over 80 per cent of them have a positive view on Vietnam’s medium- to long-term expectations for possible expansions.

What are the lessons Thai investors have learned when doing business here?

From our experiences in helping and supporting Thai investors, we can say that the Vietnamese market is not an easy market for Thailand even though our counties’ proximity is close. We guide Thai investors to stop thinking that the Vietnamese way of thinking is the same. Business models that are successful in Thailand do not guarantee success here.

Moreover, there is no shortcut for success in Vietnam and patience is required. All investors must not only accumulate experience during the first few years, but they need also to build local connections and a network among business communities, associations, and authorities. These are key factors to run a business in Vietnam and this can take some time.

Another big hurdle for Thai investors is that Vietnam has so many laws that businesses need to follow and no business can fully comply with them in their first few years of business. We suggested that Thai investors prepare their team and ensure that those people will stay in Vietnam long enough to accumulate these experiences and learn the lesson of the laws they face. To change foreign workers every 2-3 years is not recommended as the company will need to start over.

Nevertheless, ThaiCham is the centre for Thai investment. Our members are the priority and whatever creates value for our members, we will go for it. Whatever networking activities, we believe that the ultimate target for our members is to help them find supply chains or trade partners.

Our activities are thus to collaborate with more local and foreign chambers and help grasp more opportunities for our members. We strongly believe that building wider networking can assist our members to do better business in Vietnam.

What are the new opportunities in Vietnam that your members see?

Vietnam has been one of the most attractive countries in this region as Vietnam has the factors that investors want. From our discussion with hundreds of Thai investors, they come to Vietnam because of a stable political environment, a large population, competitive production costs, abundant proactive labour, many free trade agreements, and improving infrastructure.

In particular, Vietnam provides great opportunities for Thai company in four dimensions. Firstly, those looking to expand their markets can do so here. Secondly, those looking for raw material sources can find success here. Agricultural raw materials are abundant in Vietnam as well as some industrial raw materials like steel, which is also lower in cost than in Thailand.

Thirdly, Vietnam provides more reasonable production costs such as in industrial land, electricity, labour, and water. Lastly, exports to key markets are easier thanks to Vietnam’s many trade agreements that Thailand does not yet have access to.

Vietnamese, Thai localities and businesses boost cooperative ties Vietnamese, Thai localities and businesses boost cooperative ties

A conference to boost trade cooperation between Vietnam and Thailand as well as between Quang Tri and Thai localities was held in the central province of Quang Tri from August 3-4.

Quang Tri hosts showcase for Thai investors Quang Tri hosts showcase for Thai investors

To celebrate 47 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Thailand, and 10 years since establishing the Vietnam-Thailand strategic partnership, Quang Tri People's Committee, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Thai Embassy in Vietnam, organised a conference on August 3 and 4 in Dong Ha city to introduce and promote products and business from Thailand.

By Nguyen Thu

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