Thailand Prime Minister in Berlin
Yingluck Shinawatra to push economy
Berlin 18.07.2012 - The Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was visiting Berlin. Besides the political discussion with German’s chancellor Angela Merkel, economy issues were focussed to strengthen the bilateral partnership between Germany and Thailand. Germany and then France were the first countries Yingluck Shinawatra visited outside Asia. Thailand expects a closer relationship not only to large scale industry but also to smaller and middle sized enterprises.
Some of the target branches are waste water treatment, renewable energy, automotive and railway industry. Due to the tremendous flooding in 2011 Thailand has already introduced a lot of flood control measures. However, consequent application in industry and communities is not sufficient yet. Arak Chonlatanon, Minister of Energy, underlined that “Thailand has got the renewable energy technology. But it is not enough. We want to enlarge this kind of energy production up to 30 % of Thailand’s total energy demand with the help of Germany until 2020.”
Professor M. R. Pongvas Svasti, Minister of Industry, explained in the afternoon discussion session, that “Thailand is in a very good position in the automotive sector. Every important automotive company is already producing in Thailand. In 2020 Thailand wants to beat Germany as the world’s number one car producer.” It should be taken as serious. China, for instances, is already exporting more machine tools than Germany. Unthinkable a couple of years before.
The extension of high speed railways and “normal” railways in the ASEAN region will be forced not only by Thailand. The biggest project is known as Greater Mekong Sub region Transportation Routes and includes the whole Southeast Asian mainland in Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia. Will there be an important part of this giant cake for German or French companies?
German companies rely much too much on the power of persuasion of their technology. But they disregard the interpersonal contacts. In China it is called “Guanxi”. Without Guanxi, contacts and at the end contacts can only be established after a very long time. This is really cost intensive! No business in Thailand will be made without Guanxi. Once theses contacts have been established Germans and French dispose of contacts which are really reliable. In Thailand – and the whole Asian region – the “Know-who” is much more important than the “Know-how”.
The Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was speaking at the House of Economy in Berlin in front of people from economy and politics. She thanked Germany for the support after the Tsunami catastrophe in 2004. She pointed out, that despite all the destruction and the flooding, Thailand is a very strong economic nation and wants to improve its capability within the next years. One motor for Thailand is the finishing of the creation of the world biggest free trade zone in Asia in 2015. Thailand was one of the five founding members in 1967. This free trade zone comprises China and all 10 countries in ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations. The population in ASEAN is at about 600 millions. The EU counts 500 millions.
Yingluck Shinawatra invited German companies to invest in Thailand and to use Thailand as a hub for further activities inside the ASEAN region. Her slogan is „Think Asia, invest Thailand.“
Summary of the author’s discussion with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Industry, the Minister of Energy of the Kingdom of Thailand on July 18, 2012 in Berlin