Dear AMCHAM Members,
It is my honor to be elected by the Board and to serve as your President for 2017.
My involvement with AMCHAM began with my arrival in Thailand in 2006 – including serving four years on the Board from 2011- 2015. I have appreciated the value AMCHAM brings to its members, including its relationship with both the Royal Thai Government and U. S. Embassy, and its continued promotion of the values and ethics of U. S. companies.
I want to extend my deepest appreciation to Brad Middleton for his leadership and support as Chamber President in 2016. Brad worked diligently to strengthen the Chamber’s membership and provided a strong platform for us to launch into 2017.
The Chamber leadership - Board of Governors, Committee leaders and AMCHAM office met as a team at the end of January for a strategic planning dinner to discuss programs and activities for 2017. The Chamber’s three main areas of focus were discussed and reiterated: advocacy; membership services, and community engagement. ADVOCACY We were excited at the beginning of the year to finally fill the position of Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy after a long search. We are delighted to welcome H. E. retired Ambassador Tomwit Jarnson, a 32- year career diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand. Khun Tomwit has held a variety of positions in the Department of International Economic Affairs, the Department of ASEAN Affairs, the Department of Information and the Department of South Asian, Middle Eastern and African Affairs. He was Ambassador of Thailand to Pakistan and previous to that was ConsulGeneral of Thailand in Mumbai, India. He also served at the Royal Thai Embassy/ Mission of Thailand to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium and the Royal Thai Embassy in Ottawa, Canada. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas. Khun Tomwit’s addition to the AMCHAM team has brought about an ability to engage more proactively with the Royal Thai Government.
In January and February Khun Tomwit supported the Chamber office and Committees at a number of Ministry meetings including with the Ministry of Labor, Commerce, Industry and Finance.
The Chamber office is also currently engaged in two other longer- term advocacy efforts: road safety under the “Road Safety is Everyone’s Business” campaign and Immigration efforts to review visa processing issues. You will be hearing more about these two efforts in the near future.
The AMCHAM office designs a large number of services to keep our member companies informed and connected and also acts as a conduit for new U. S. companies seeking to do business in Thailand. These include:
• Supporting twenty- one Committees in their regular committee meetings, including invitations, logistics and registrations; • Producing and publishing T- AB Magazine and the Membership Directory; • Providing information and contacts to help member companies and potential companies navigate the Thailand business scene; • Supporting our membership benefits programs such as the Affinity program.
AMCHAM, through the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand Foundation ( ATF), continues to invest in the future of Thailand by providing student scholarships, school renovations, and English language capacity building. These programs are administered through the Foundation under the competent guidance of the AMCHAM Community Engagement Committee. I encourage anyone who has a passion for education and the future of the Thai work force to be involved in this Committee. This year we have launched a new initiative ( Adopt- a Student and Adopt- an- ETA) and you can read more about these programs in the Executive Director’s letter on page 48 and on page 51.
AMCHAM AND ATF FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
The Treasurer’s reports and financial statements for both the Chamber and the American Chamber of Commerce Thailand Foundation can be found on pages 32 and 36, respectively.
The Chamber had another successful year ending with a surplus and was able to make a Baht 2.5 million donation to the Foundation.
While the Chamber’s financials and membership remain strong, the majority of the growth in membership dues and meeting revenue can be attributed to the Myanmar Chapter. However, thanks to another successful Corporate Partner program year, the Chamber was able to meet all its goals in funding publications, events, social activities and other programs.
We are also pleased that despite a decline in the Chamber’s donations to the Foundation, the Foundation was able to meet its annual goal of providing 199 scholarships to un- derprivileged Thai University students and provide a matching fund for the Thailand- U. S. Educational Foundation English Teaching Assistants ( Fulbright ETAS).
AMCHAMS full financial statements and auditors report has been emailed to all members and can also be downloaded on the AMCHAM website. Please review the statements and attend the Annual General Meeting scheduled for March 24 where we will formally ask the Chamber’s membership to approve them.
This edition of T- AB Magazine contains articles and reports on Thailand’s newest initiative to help move the Thai economy to stability, prosperity and sustainability. We were honored to have Dr. Suvit Maesincee, Minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office, join us at the January 24 monthly membership luncheon to talk about the Royal Thai Government’s vision of Thailand 4.0. Dr. Suvit then subsequently sat down with AMCHAM’S Communications Director, Deanna Despodova Pajkovski, to talk more about the strategy and reforms necessary to move Thailand to a value- based economy. Please see his responses on page 10. We also reached out to members to cover other areas of Thailand 4.0 including human capital, energy, medical robotics and the digital economy. Our thanks to those members who contributed articles. Jeff Nygaard President