Dear AMCHAM Mem­bers,

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - President’s Remarks -

I hope you all en­joyed the fes­tive sea­son and new year hol­i­days, and wish you and your fam­i­lies good health, hap­pi­ness and suc­cess in 2016!

The Thai econ­omy in 2015 un­der­per­formed again due to a com­bi­na­tion of ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal fac­tors. But the mea­sures im­ple­mented by the Thai govern­ment’s new eco­nom­ics team post Septem­ber will hope­fully pro­vide some fi scal stim­u­lus up­lift in 2016 amidst a back­drop of con­tin­ued eco­nomic soft­ness glob­ally ex­cept for the U. S., where the Fed rec­og­nized the U. S. econ­omy’s re­cov­ery and fi - nally lifted U. S. in­ter­est rates in De­cem­ber.

2016 is a mo­men­tous year for AMCHAM as the Cham­ber cel­e­brates its 60th an­niver­sary of be­ing the voice of Amer­i­can busi­ness in Thai­land. We have come a long way since 1956 when a hand­ful of Amer­i­cans de­cided that the al­ready fl our­ish­ing Amer­i­can busi­ness com­mu­nity in Thai­land needed an ad­vo­cate. The Cham­ber was born out of a gen­uine need for rep­re­sen­ta­tion and has since grown to rep­re­sent over 700 Amer­i­can, Thai, and multi­na­tional busi­nesses to be­come one of Thai­land’s largest and most infl uen­tial for­eign busi­ness cham­bers.

AD­VO­CAT­ING FOR A COM­PET­I­TIVE THAI­LAND

AMCHAM in­vested sig­nifi cant eff ort into ad­vo­cacy in 2015. With the con­sid­er­able help of our Com­mit­tees, the Cham­ber has been work­ing on a com­pre­hen­sive white pa­per on how to im­prove Thai­land’s com­pet­i­tive­ness, in­clud­ing both gen­eral and in­dus­try- specifi c rec­om­men­da­tions.

In a year when the ASEAN Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity ( AEC) be­came a re­al­ity and ne­go­ti­a­tions on the Trans- Pacifi c Part­ner­ship ( TPP) were fi nally con­cluded, com­pet­i­tive­ness was at the fore­front of ev­ery­body’s mind. Thai­land’s neigh­bors are lib­er­al­iz­ing their mar­kets and off er­ing benefi ts be­yond just cheap la­bor in the form of busi­ness and tax in­cen­tives. As a re­sult, Thai­land’s po­si­tion as South­east Asia’s best in­vest­ment desti­na­tion has be­come less clear. The ASEAN Busi­ness Out­look Sur­vey 2016, con­ducted by Amchams in all 10 ASEAN coun­tries, in­di­cated that Thai­land’s com­pet­i­tive­ness rank­ing has slipped in 14 out of the 16 key in­di­ca­tors.

AMCHAM’S com­pet­i­tive­ness pa­per will ad­dress gen­eral short­com­ings, as well as a num­ber of in­dus­try- re­lated is­sues in the fol­low­ing fi elds: au­to­mo­tive, bank­ing, cus­toms, en­ergy, food and agribusi­ness, health­care, HR, ICT, tax­a­tion, in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights, and tourism. The pa­per will be com­pleted in the fi rst quar­ter of 2016 and used as an ad­vo­cacy tool in meet­ings with Thai govern­ment in­sti­tu­tions and offi cials.

MEM­BER­SHIP SER­VICES

De­liv­er­ing high- qual­ity and rel­e­vant ser­vices and pro­grams to mem­bers is the Cham­ber’s pri­or­ity. In 2015 we con­tin­ued to serve our grow­ing and in­creas­ingly di­verse mem­ber­ship body through 334 events, meet­ings, and pro­grams. Here are the mem­ber­ship high­lights for 2015:

• While the num­ber of AMCHAM Thai­land mem­bers de­creased slightly com­pared to last year, the to­tal num­ber of Cham­ber mem­bers in­creased due to grow­ing in­ter­est in the Myan­mar and Lao chap­ters. • Event at­ten­dance was very good, with over 3,000 mem­bers at­tend­ing var­i­ous com­mit­tee meet­ings. In ad­di­tion, close to 2,000 mem­bers were present for the monthly lun­cheons and as many gath­ered for the In­de­pen­dence Day Pic­nic, while a fur­ther 400 dressed up and danced the night away at the very suc­cess­ful Gov­er­nors Ball. Thank you!

• The Cor­po­rate Part­ner­ship pro­gram con­tin­ued to pro­vide strong sup­port to AMCHAM with 29 com­pa­nies par­tic­i­pat­ing in 2015 and 27 al­ready con­firmed for 2016. If you are in­ter­ested in a one- step so­lu­tion to your mar­ket­ing and Cham­ber needs and want to sup­port AMCHAM dur­ing the mile­stone 60th an­niver­sary year, please con­tact the AMCHAM of­fice and sign up for the Cor­po­rate Part­ner­ship pro­gram. • AMCHAM’S chap­ters con­tin­ued to per­form well. East­ern Se­aboard events grew in pop­u­lar­ity and fos­tered stronger co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the for­eign cham­bers in Thai­land while the Lao Chap­ter dou­bled in size and in­creased the num­ber and qual­ity of events it held.

2015 also saw con­tin­u­ing chal­lenges at the Cham­ber. While we cel­e­brate the fact that the Cham­ber grows more and more di­verse, we have no­ticed a de­crease in the num­ber of U. S. ci­ti­zen com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tives, which is cur­rently at 18% of the mem­ber­ship. The Cham­ber is work­ing to adapt and re­main rel­e­vant to this di­verse mem­ber­ship base while also con­tin­u­ing to be the clear voice of Amer­i­can Busi­ness in Thai­land.

Also no­table in 2015 was a de­cline in the par­tic­i­pa­tion rate in cer­tain com­mit­tee meet­ings. This might be due to event fa­tigue as we or­ga­nized over 300 events last year, but AMCHAM com­mit­tees are the back­bone of the Cham­ber and our com­mit­tee lead­ers work very hard to put to­gether in­ter­est­ing and rel­e­vant meet­ings, so I en­cour­age you all to try to find time to at­tend more of th­ese meet­ings in 2016.

One more thing, it is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to source and con­firm speak­ers for monthly lun­cheons. We strive to fea­ture high pro­file speak­ers at AMCHAM’S sig­na­ture monthly lun­cheons and we would ap­pre­ci­ate your help in rec­om­mend­ing and li­ais­ing with po­ten­tial speak­ers in 2016.

How­ever, on a brighter note, the Cham­ber re­mains fis­cally very sound and ended the year with an over Baht 5 mil­lion sur­plus. This sur­plus will go a long way to­ward sup­port­ing the AMCHAM Thai­land Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion ( ATCF) and the con­tin­ued in­vest­ment in Thai education. The Cor­po­rate Part­ner­ship gen­er­ated rev­enue of more than Baht 10 mil­lion which as­sured the smooth func­tion­ing of the Cham­ber.

CSR AND COM­MU­NITY IN­VEST­MENT

AMCHAM mem­bers have fully em­braced cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity as a core value, which was ev­i­dent in the record num­ber of com­pa­nies ( 62) that were rec­og­nized at the ninth AMCHAM CSR Ex­cel­lence awards in Novem­ber. We were par­tic­u­larly pleased to see the sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of SMES who en­gaged in CSR de­spite their lim­ited re­sources.

The Cham­ber also en­gaged in com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives through ATCF’S pro­grams that sup­port and pro­mote education. In 2015 ATCF pro­vided schol­ar­ships to 200 de­serv­ing but un­der­priv­i­leged Thai univer­sity stu­dents, matched Baht 1 mil­lion in do­na­tions to the Adopt- a- School pro­gram, and spon­sored 22 Amer­i­can English Teach­ing As­sis­tants ( ETAS) to im­prove the English- lan­guage ca­pa­bil­i­ties of Thai stu­dents. ATCF also hosted two schol­ar­ship stu­dent camps for 71 new and 58 grad­u­at­ing stu­dents to help them make the most out of their schol­ar­ships and ease their en­try into the pro­fes­sional world.

The Adopt- a- School pro­gram in­vested more than Baht 5 mil­lion into needy schools across Thai­land, with Baht 1 mil­lion of those funds pro­vided by ATCF as a match­ing do­na­tion. Baht 3.5 mil­lion was do­nated to the Thai- U. S. Ed­u­ca­tional Foun­da­tion ( Ful­bright) to sup­port the ETAS. Most of the funds were raised at AMCHAM events with the big­gest fundrais­ers be­ing the silent auc­tion at the Gov­er­nors Ball, the char­ity raf­fle at the In­de­pen­dence Day Pic­nic, and the sports tour­na­ments. Th­ese fundrais­ing ef­forts were spear­headed by AMCHAM mem­bers and vol­un­teers through the var­i­ous com­mit­tees and we thank them whole­heart­edly for their en­gage­ment and ded­i­ca­tion.

BOARD OF GOV­ER­NORS AND COM­MIT­TEES

The 2016 Board of Gov­er­nors has a few new faces: Her­man Ehrlich from Con­rad, Dale Lee from COFFEEWORKS, Parn­siree Amatayakul from IBM, and Teera Phutrakul from JTFP. Their var­ied back­grounds and ex­pe­ri­ences will pro­vide a fresh per­spec­tive and we look for­ward to their par­tic­i­pa­tion. We say good­bye to Jeff Ny­gaard and Dou­glas de Weese whose terms ex­pired in 2015. We are grate­ful for their lead­er­ship and will miss the en­ergy they brought to our 7 am meet­ings and many events! You can find the com­po­si­tion of the 2016 Board of Gov­er­nors on page 10.

Al­low me to rec­og­nize ev­ery­body who made 2015 an­other suc­cess­ful year: the com­mit­tee lead­ers for their un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment ( you can read about their suc­cesses on page 30), the mem­bers of the Board of Gov­er­nors for their in­valu­able con­tri­bu­tion and for pro­vid­ing di­rec­tion to the Cham­ber, the of­fi­cers at the U. S. Em­bassy and U. S. Com­mer­cial Ser­vice for their sig­nif­i­cant en­gage­ment and as­sis­tance, es­pe­cially Am­bas­sador Glyn Davies, and all of you who make the Cham­ber the dy­namic in­sti­tu­tion that it is.

Lastly, as my ten­ure as Pres­i­dent of the AMCHAM Board of Gov­er­nors ends in 2015, I would like to thank you for your trust and sup­port th­ese past two years. It was an honor and an in­cred­i­bly en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to serve as AMCHAM’S Pres­i­dent. I now leave you in the ca­pa­ble and ded­i­cated hands of Brad Mid­dle­ton who will lead the Cham­ber in 2016. If you would like to learn more about Brad and his plans for the Cham­ber in 2016, read the in­ter­view on page 12 or at­tend one of the AMCHAM net­work­ing events in 2016 to meet him in per­son.

Best Re­gards, Dar­ren Buck­ley Pres­i­dent

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