Thailand Catching the Eye of Investors, Despite Uncertainty

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Thailand boasts one of the most attractive business and investment environments in the ASEAN region, and pharmaceutical companies implanted in the country benefit from a highly-skilled workforce and enabling infrastructure. Despite some areas in which the country can improve, as well as a degree of political uncertainty, experts still have a positive outlook for companies looking to invest. 

 

With all our efforts on innovation, we are truly convinced that Thailand is the perfect place to receive foreign investment.

Dr Prasit Palittapongarnpim, Thai National Science Technology Development Agency

The World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 ranks Thailand as 27th in the world for ease of doing business. The Thai economy’s strengths lie primarily in its diversity: agriculture, industry, services and tourism are highly developed. Its workforce is inexpensive, skilled and diversified. The country’s location in the heart of Asia makes it a gateway to Southeast Asia and the Greater Mekong Basin region, where new emerging markets have great economic potential. Government policy is generally in favour of investment and encourages free trade: there are, for example, no restrictions in the manufacturing sector or export conditions. (Source: Santander Trade Portal)

 

Karri Kivela, Executive Director of the European Association for Business and Commerce (EABC), praises Thailand: “First of all, the country is well located geographically. Then, it is peaceful compared to other countries in the region such as Myanmar and the Philippines and doing business here is relatively straightforward. Furthermore, Thailand is an enjoyable and safe place to live.”

 

However, there are still several areas in which Thailand can improve its investability. Kivela of the EABC suggests, that “Improvements should be made, such as fostering investment attractiveness for innovation and research collaboration, enhancing the regulatory ecosystem, and removing technical barriers to facilitate doing business. Thailand should also put in place an appropriate Intellectual Property ecosystem and enable sustainable healthcare financing approaches to support innovation. The newly elected Government in Thailand will start Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks again with the EU. At the moment, the EU has FTAs with Singapore and Vietnam, but the FTA between Thailand and the EU might take a long time.” Indeed, though the EU restored political ties with Thailand in 2017, at the moment there is no sign the two sides will resume negotiations for an agreement they spent over a year working on.

 

Other experts continue to maintain a positive outlook on investment in Thailand, especially with regards to pharmaceuticals. Dr Prasit Palittapongarnpim, executive VP of R&D Management and International Collaboration at the Thai National Science Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) told PharmaBoardroom, “First of all, with all of our efforts on innovation, we are truly convinced that Thailand is the perfect place to receive foreign investment. The NSTDA has been working on developing creativity and innovation for the past few years. We are helping start-ups to set up their businesses in Thailand and develop their innovative products.”

 

Palittapongarnpim continues, “For the moment we are more interested in biopharmaceuticals than small molecule drug companies because we know that we still have to make an effort to be more attractive.  We have been creating a plan for biopharmaceuticals with some universities to use their facilities and develop the industry even more. We also have the talent to attract more private companies. More and more scientists are going abroad for their studies and come back to the country in order to develop their ideas and research. We would like to carry on improving our people in term of excellence and advanced training. With more and more well-trained people and the certificate of excellence, we will be able to attract more international collaboration.”

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