Swiss rolls for the North?
Swiss entrepreneurs and government officials have been
checking out small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the North with a view to
future trade and investment.
Nurak (3rd left), director of the Northern Region Investment and Economy
Center 1; Jorg Ai Reding (4th left), an ambassador; Chiang Mai Deputy
Governor Prinya Parnthong (3rd right), HE Hans-Peter Erismann (2nd right),
Swiss ambassador to Thailand at the meeting.
The 15 Swiss visitors were in northern Thailand on
October 6-7. The visit was organized in collaboration with the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs by the Royal Thai Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, the Swiss
Ministry of Economy, Swiss-Southeast Asian Chamber of Commerce, and the
Office of the Board of Investment (BoI), Northern Region Investment and
Economy Center 1.
A seminar on “Trade and Investment Opportunity in
Northern Thailand” was held on October 7 at the Sheraton Hotel to offer
guidelines to the Swiss entrepreneurs and government officials.
Ambassador Jorg Ai Reding as a representative from the
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs; Hans-Peter Erismann, Swiss
ambassador to Thailand; and Paul Hohl, a representative of the
Swiss-Southeast Asian Chamber of Commerce, were among the participants.
Thai representatives included deputy governor Prinya
Parnthong, on behalf of Chiang Mai province; Patchanee Kithavorn, a
representative of the Royal Thai Embassy in Bern; Siriporn Nurak, director
of the Northern Region Investment and Economy Center 1; and Chumpol Chutima,
president of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce.
The main objectives were to look at the situation with a
view to trade and investment in the North, build partnerships in order to be
more competitive in the world market, and to share experience with Thai
investors, according to Jorg Ai Reding.
“From January-August this year, 16 Swiss-owned projects
were supported by the BoI and settled in the country, at a value of almost
900 million baht and creating 3,528 jobs for Thais,” Siriporn reported.
“There are around four percent of Swiss shareholders in the northern
industry, which shows that the North is not a major target for Swiss
“However, the trend of Swiss investment in jewelry and
fashion businesses in the North has emerged and northern workers can satisfy
the demand for skilled manpower,” Siriporn said. Swiss entrepreneurs had
shown great interest in the logistics and health care businesses in the
North, she added.
To draw more investors and trade, the role of Chiang Mai
as a new ICT city was emphasized to show its great potential, especially in
the software industry.
The BoI also plans to take Thai SME entrepreneurs to
observe business operations in Switzerland. It has asked for support from
the Swiss-Southeast Asian Chamber of Commerce, which has as its main aim
promoting economic and business relations between Switzerland and Southeast
Asian countries and the Zuercher Kantonalbank to support Thai SMEs.
However, concerns over energy supply and the quality of
infrastructure were raised at the seminar by one of the Swiss entrepreneurs.
Inconsistent supply of electricity could have a detrimental effect on
machine and factory operations, as could the price of oil to support land
transportation and Chiang Mai’s traffic jams were also mentioned.
Siriporn admitted that Thailand was at a disadvantage in
that it does not have its own fuel resources and has to purchase from
overseas. However, attempts by the Thai government to produce and encourage
the use of alternative energy sources such as ethanol were brought up.
After the seminar, participants toured Swiss-owned companies situated at
the Northern Region Industrial Estate in Lamphun.
Jeremy Colson, TTG Asia
Chiang Mai’s new convention centre has landed its first
major booking even though construction is not scheduled to start until
A completion date for the project has been set for August
2006 so the centre will be operational in time for the International
Horticultural Exposition scheduled for November 2006.
Tourism Authority of Thailand director of tourism
investment, Udom Metatamrongsiri said the design phase has now been finished
and approval is being sought for an increased budget to cover changes made
in the proposed layout of the facility.
“The addition of a reception area and a larger parking
area has facilitated the need for a budget increase from 1.45 billion baht
(US$36.25million) to 1.6 billion baht,” he said.
No other design changes are foreseen for the facility,
which comprises two main buildings situated 10 minutes from Chiang Mai
The exhibition hall will provide 11,000m2 of exhibition
space, which can be divided into two smaller spaces measuring 8,000m2
and 3,000m2 respectively. The convention/meeting
centre will include 40 breakout rooms and total seating capacity for up to