The Thai government should position Thailand as a "land bridge" between Asean and other Asian countries, say leading business leaders.
Pailin Chuchottaworn, the president and chief executive of PTT Plc, said the country's geographical location would benefit the country greatly as Asean integrates its economies under the Asean Economic Community (AEC).
He made his comments at an economics conference hosted yesterday by Fitch Ratings.
Dr Pailin told the seminar the challenge is how best to position Thailand to benefit from the AEC.
"In my opinion, constructing infrastructure to support increased trade is needed. Thailand should take advantage of the opportunity to become a hub linking Asean with China and India, which would help to support more steady long-term growth," he said.
PTT, the state-owned energy conglomerate, will continue to expand its international investments and acquisitions in support of future growth.
Dr Pailin said coal, gas and oil prices have been on an uptrend since the March 2011 Japanese tsunami, while nuclear power plans have faded.
"We would take any opportunity to acquire natural resources in any location if the price is reasonable," he added.
Win Phromphaet, head of global and real estate investment in the Social Security Office, agreed Thailand should position itself as a logistics hub linking Asean with the rest of Asia.
Cities such as Nong Khai could serve as a hub to Laos, while Kanchanaburi and Tak could reach out to Myanmar, he said.
Lertchai Kochareonrattanakul, the senior director and head of corporate ratings for Fitch Ratings (Thailand), said with rising regional demand for oil and gas, Asian companies have been active in acquiring assets to secure long-term supplies.
Chinese oil and gas firms have been the most active in the market, with US$142 billion worth of acquisitions from 2010 to this past August or 51% of total deals over the period, he said.
This was followed by Australia at 14% and Indian firms at 11%, while Thailand accounted for just 4%.
About the author
- Writer: Nuntawun Polkuamdee
Position: Business Reporter