Nation Multimedia - 22/4/2006
As the Thailand Business Centre in Bahrain is completed, the Federation of Thai Industries has been approached to build similar centres in Saudi Arabia and in Qatar, a move that heartens Thai industrialists who are expanding their overseas markets.
Viraj Klewpatinond, deputy secretary-general of the private association, said both countries were ready to allocate space for the centres but the FTI preferred to wait until the Bahrain centre had been operating for a while.
"Our members are ready, but we want to create an impression," he said at a press conference yesterday.
The TBC in Bahrain is slated to open on April 26, when 20 industrialists who are members of the FTI will showcase their wares, including Siam Cement Plc's cement products. Despite a relatively small population, Bahrain is considered promising as a member of an economic block that includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. Trade value between Thailand and the Middle East reached US$19.97 billion (Bt756 billion) in 2005.
"We want to ensure that the products exhibited meet standards to some extent. Thus in the initial period only products from our members, primarily the 20 companies which contributed the management fee, will be exhibited.
"Most importantly, through the TBC, we want to bring back home information on what products they want and how we should make products that best fit their requirements," he said.
According to Praphad Phodhivorakhun, chairman of the FTI, while the TBC is located in space provided by the Bahrain government, the 20 members will shoulder the management fee for the 1,200-square-metre centre, which are likely to be Bt400,000 a month. At the next stage, the centre will also be a house of industrial products and other apparatus.
"The centre is our long-term strategy. So far we have no after-sales service. This will reach out to buyers and raise confidence among them. This will be a key to boosting bilateral trade between Thailand and Bahrain as well as Thai trade in the Middle East," said Phaichit Viboontanasarn, an Export Promotion Department official.
TBC is also positioned to promote mutual investment and highlight Thailand tourism, about which several government agencies, including the Export Promotion Department and Tourism Authority of Thailand, will deal with enquiries.