Pres­i­dent’s Re­marks

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Contents - Dar­ren Buck­ley Pres­i­dent Best Re­gards,

Au­gust saw one of the most hor­rific events in re­cent Thai history – a cow­ardly at­tack on in­no­cent peo­ple de­signed to arouse fear and dam­age Thai­land’s rep­u­ta­tion and econ­omy. Our heart­felt con­do­lences go out to the peo­ple of Thai­land and those who were af­fected by the Au­gust 17 bomb­ing at the Erawan Shrine. Ter­ror­ism is the scourge of the 21st cen­tury and we com­mend the au­thor­i­ties for their ef­forts in ap­pre­hend­ing those re­spon­si­ble for the at­tack. A swift res­o­lu­tion to the case goes a long way to­ward restor­ing in­vestor con­fi­dence and a re­turn to busi­ness as usual.

On a brighter note, it is with great an­tic­i­pa­tion that we await the ar­rival of U. S. Am­bas­sador- des­ig­nate to Thai­land, Glyn Davies, who is ex­pected to ar­rive in Thai­land in late Septem­ber. We have al­ready re­quested the Am­bas­sador’s pres­ence at a num­ber of AMCHAM events which are pen­ciled in his sched­ule and will be an­nounced once Am­bas­sador Davies has ar­rived and com­pleted the nec­es­sary diplo­matic pro­to­col.

We also wish to wel­come Gre­gory Wong, the new Com­mer­cial Coun­selor of the U. S Com­mer­cial Ser­vice at the U. S. Em­bassy. The U. S. Com­mer­cial Ser­vice is AMCHAM’S part­ner at the U. S. Em­bassy which helps pro­mote trade and as­sists with trade and in­vest­ment bar­ri­ers that U. S. com­pa­nies may en­counter. Greg has many years of ex­pe­ri­ence in as­sist­ing U. S. com­pa­nies through­out the re­gion and we look for­ward to work­ing with him.

Over the past year Thai­land has been pro­mot­ing its in­ten­tion to trans­form into a dig­i­tal econ­omy, which would stim­u­late the use of in­ter­net for busi­ness and gov­er­nance and dig­i­tize the econ­omy in a num­ber of key ar­eas. While Thai­land has a high level of mo­bile broad­band pen­e­tra­tion, there are a num­ber of is­sues that need to be ad­dressed. The re­cently an­nounced dig­i­tal econ­omy mas­ter plan calls for the cre­ation of five plat­forms to sup­port the trans­for­ma­tion of hard, soft and ser­vice in­fra­struc­ture, pro­mo­tion and in­no­va­tion, and so­ci­ety and knowl­edge. Cur­rent plans also call for mor­ph­ing the In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Tech­nol­ogy Min­istry into the Dig­i­tal Econ­omy Min­istry to oversee th­ese plans.

The AMCHAM ICT Com­mit­tee re­cently com­pleted their broad list of rec­om­men­da­tions for the Royal Thai Gov­ern­ment’s con­sid­er­a­tion as it moves along this in­no­va­tive path. The ICT Com­mit­tee iden­ti­fied leg­isla­tive and reg­u­la­tory is­sues and in­vest­ment con­sid­er­a­tions which would move the dig­i­tal econ­omy plan closer to fruition. This edi­tion of T- AB fo­cuses on many of th­ese ar­eas and also pro­vides an over­view on some im­por­tant re­cent changes to Thai­land’s Data Pro­tec­tion regime and the pro­posed amend­ments to the Elec­tronic Trans­ac­tion Act.

This edi­tion also pro­vides a snap­shot of U. S. busi­ness sen­ti­ment to­ward do­ing busi­ness in ASEAN re­flected in the re­sults from the 2016 ASEAN Busi­ness Out­look Sur­vey con­ducted by the U. S. Cham­ber of Commerce and the ASEAN Am­chams. De­spite a high de­gree of in­vestor con­fi­dence, there has been a down­turn in the level of op­ti­mism for ASEAN over the past few years. Over half ( 53 per­cent) of re­spon­dents said that ASEAN mar­kets have be­come more im­por­tant in terms of their com­pa­nies’ world­wide rev­enues over the past two years, but this is ten per­cent­age points lower than re­ported two years ear­lier. In ad­di­tion, two- thirds ( 66 per­cent) of re­spon­dents this year ex­pect ASEAN to be­come more im­por­tant in terms of world­wide rev­enues over the next two years; while still high, this is 7 per­cent­age points lower than two years ear­lier.

The down­turn in in­vestor op­ti­mism that was noted across ASEAN is plagu­ing Thai­land as well. The sur­vey has been track­ing U. S. in­vestor sat­is­fac­tion with 16 as­pects of the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment from 2006 to 2015 and in the past five years in­vestors’ sat­is­fac­tion with the busi­ness cli­mate in Thai­land has de­creased across 14 out of the 16 in­di­ca­tors, some­times by more than 20 per­cent. In com­par­i­son, in­vestor con­fi­dence has been steadily in­creas­ing in some of Thai­land’s neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, such as Malaysia, Viet­nam and Cam­bo­dia. For ex­am­ple, in­vestor sat­is­fac­tion with new busi­ness in­cen­tives of­fered by the gov­ern­ment has risen by 25 per­cent over the past five years in Malaysia and de­creased by 5 per­cent in Thai­land. You can read more about this on pages 35- 37.

I want to re­mind mem­bers that com­ing up in Oc­to­ber are the 2016- 2017 Board of Gov­er­nors elec­tions. AMCHAM mem­bers will elect eight mem­bers to lead the Cham­ber for the next two years, who join the other seven gov­er­nors elected last year. Many thanks to the Nom­i­nat­ing Com­mit­tee for their out­stand­ing work.

I hope you will be able to join us on Oc­to­ber 14 at the Con­rad Ho­tel where we will host the an­nual “Meet the Board Can­di­dates” net­work­ing re­cep­tion where you will have an op­por­tu­nity to meet those run­ning for the Board. I also urge ev­ery­one to cast your ballot at the Oc­to­ber An­nual Gen­eral Meet­ing or to sub­mit a proxy vote. More in­for­ma­tion on th­ese two events will be forth­com­ing from the AMCHAM Of­fice.

One of the Gov­er­nors who would have been up for re­elec­tion, Khun Som­boon Krob­teer­a­non, an­nounced his re­tire­ment from Visa in Au­gust and thus is step­ping off the Board this month. I wish to ex­tend my thanks and best wishes to Khun Som­boon for his par­tic­i­pa­tion and sup­port of the Cham­ber over his al­most two years as a Board mem­ber.

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