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New opportunities for Thailand as China seeks greener development

2012-05-14 From:China Business Minister    [Large Medium small]
The rise of a "green" China will offer new business opportunities to Thailand and other Asean countries, according to an investment seminar held by The Nation, Kasikornbank and China Daily.

The focus is now on China's 12th five-year national economic and social development plan, covering the years from now until the end of 2015, and its new Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation (PBG) programme, in which Thailand is a regional partner.

According to Li Jiping, executive vice president of China Development Corp, which is in charge of the PBG programme, China will invest 2.6 trillion yuan (Bt12.15 trillion) in it over the next five years. That amount is more than Thailand's gross domestic product of about Bt11 trillion.

A Thammasat University expert on China, Aksornsri Phanishsarn, told the seminar that the massive investment was earmarked for three Chinese provinces: Guangzhou, Guangxi and Hainan, all of which were positioned for linkages with Asean countries, including Thailand.

She said China was rebalancing its economy to solve problems including the uneven development between coastal and inner areas, environmental problems and over-dependence on exports. As a result, there will be opportunities from China's massive industrial restructuring in coming years as the world's second-largest economy addresses problems caused by labour-intensive and polluting industries.

"In other words, the Chinese are going for more quality national development, or greener industries, rather than quantity. This means there will be opportunities in bio-products using farm outputs as raw materials. Thailand, for example, is Asean's largest producer of tapioca [cassava], which could be a raw material," Aksornsri said.

"China is also keen on alternative energies and services, as it aims to be the world's No 3 in trade in services over the next five years. For Thailand, which is quite strong in services, there will be both threats and opportunities. For example, we're competent in hotel management, with years of experience ahead of China.

"Under its 12th plan, China will also invest massively in relocating its industries and will shift its export-led growth model to one that is driven more by domestic demand. More Chinese consumers are getting rich, so there will be more demand for goods and services. They also have better taste," so there are business opportunities for more diverse and upmarket products, she said.

Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, National Economic and Social Development Board secretary-general, said China's 12th plan was similar to Thailand's 11th national economic and social development plan, except the Chinese programme was centrally planned, with budget commitment.

"Besides big corporations, Thailand's small and medium-sized enterprises should also tap into new opportunities in China, such as in tourism and hotel-management contracts, or in logistics and cross-border transport services."

Aksornsri of Thammasat University said that this year alone, China was expected to invest 630 billion yuan in the PBG programme. Thai businesspeople should focus on opportunities in second-tier markets such as Nanning and Kunming, she said.
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