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Apr 07, 2022 / 16:40

Vietnam and Thailand – supporters but not competitors: ThaiCham

The ThaiCham is tasked with expanding business networking and Thai presence to strengthen the Thai businesses community in Vietnam.

Vietnam and Thailand are supporters in the multifaceted relationship, mostly in economic aspects, which is proven over the past four decades.

Ambassador of Thailand to Vietnam Nikorndej Balankura. Photos: Embassy of Thailand in Hanoi 

Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam (ThaiCham) Piyapong Jriyasetapong gave the idea on the occasion of the launching of ThaiCham, a non-governmental and non-profit organization set up in 2021, the year both countries commemorated the 45th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations.

Many Thai companies have operated in Vietnam for years and some for decades, demonstrating the trust and love of the country that Thai investors have picked for their long-term investment, Piyapong Jriyasetapong told The Hanoi Times.

Sharing the same idea, Ambassador of Thailand to Vietnam Nikorndej Balankura said the Thai business community first entered Vietnam over four decades ago and “played a highly significant role in supporting the socio-economic development of both countries since.” He added that the ‘public-private partnership’ (PPP) has always been the key driving force behind Thailand and Vietnam’s special relationship that has matured and enjoyed the status of ‘Strengthened Strategic Partnership’ since 2019.

Meanwhile, Piyapong Jriyasetapong stated that Thai investors come to cooperate with local partners to concretize their business plans and the cooperation enables them to build on strengths to foster together with a vision for both sides. The partnership is helpful both in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the model really works.

Both of them stressed the importance of maintaining a supply chain post-pandemic, in which the Thai business community will contribute a large part and the partnership between Vietnamese and Thai firms is inevitable in and outside ASEAN.

It seems that a long-term strategy in Vietnam instead of a short-term stay for grasping opportunities, earning profits, and leaving has made Thailand’s investment in Vietnam successful, gaining locals’ strong sentiment towards Thai products. As such, Thai investors are supporters but not competitors, Jriyasetapong said, attributing culture, similarities, and understanding of Vietnamese people to the reputation. 

Such a reason was also supported by Ambassador Balankura who said in last week's meeting with Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh that Thai investors are ‘quality investors’ who have built resilience and sustainability for the Vietnamese communities as well as empowered the Vietnamese people through their corporate social responsibility activities.

 Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam (ThaiCham) Piyapong Jriyasetapong. 

ThaiCham’s missions 

ThaiCham is the organization that promotes economic cooperation, trading, and investment in Vietnam together with developing business networking and a Thai presence to strengthen the Thai businesses community in Vietnam, according to Jriyasetapong.

The body with various members from many industries and more than 100 Thai companies set up in Vietnam, ThaiCham, which was transformed from the Thai Business Association (TBA), acts as a ‘catalyst’ for Thai investors in Vietnam. It is expected to connect more Thai firms, including small- and medium-sized ones, who wish to do business in Vietnam. 

As Thailand and Vietnam have recently reopened borders to the world, the establishment of ThaiCham is therefore “very timely for promoting trade and investment flows between the two countries, which are crucial for the post-pandemic recovery,” said Ambassador Balankura.

The ambassador said ThaiCham is a ‘bridge builder’ that connects Vietnam and Thailand’s businesses through the supply chain and brings the two countries closer in sub-regional, regional and multilateral cooperation.

As Thailand is chairing APEC throughout the year 2022, the ambassador hopes that they can work with Vietnam in supporting the realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and advancing the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) to promote safer, more seamless, and inclusive cross-border business mobility in the APEC region.

ThaiCham is believed to contribute to strengthening economic ties between Vietnam and Thailand.

Ambassador Balankura said Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh expressed his strong support to the organization and hoped that it would take Thailand and Vietnam’s economic relations to the next level, achieving the bilateral trade target of US$25 billion by 2025 as set forth by leaders of the two countries.

The ambassador said that more and more Thai investors, both large and small, are eyeing Vietnam as they have strong confidence in the country’s bright prospect for growth, excellent control of the Covid-19 pandemic, and impressive vaccination rate.

Addressing the launching ceremony on April 5, Do Nhat Hoang, head of the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, said ThaiCham’s presence will be the key to promoting Vietnam-Thailand trade and investment, opening more opportunities for Thai investors by providing information on Vietnam’s economic policies and business environment, greatly supporting their long-term investment in Vietnam.

He said Vietnam has successfully contained the virus and taken drastic reforms in the investment environment at the same time, facilitating foreign investors, including those from Thailand.

So far, Thailand is Vietnam’s 8th largest investor and the country’s biggest trading partner in ASEAN. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the two-way trade reached US$18.7 billion in 2021 while 35 new Thai investment projects were added last year to lift the total number to 644.