Merck KGaA, the German pharmaceutical and chemical maker, plans to enter Myanmar using Thailand as the base.
Karl-Ludwig Kley, chairman of Merck's executive board, said the company will use its Thai organisation to help develop the business in Myanmar, where it has no presence for the time being.
"I believe Myanmar has strong potential for our business if the country continues with its reforms, and that's an opportunity we think we can take best advantage of from Thailand," he said during a visit to Bangkok last week.
For instance, Thailand offers a lot of skilled personnel for innovative businesses, but Merck first needs to train and educate people who can represent its products, said Mr Kley.
He said Merck has seen revenue from North America and Asia increase in recent years, while Europe's proportion has been on the decline.
As of last year, sales in Europe accounted for 40%, followed by North America at 18%.
Asia and other emerging markets account for the rest.
More than 60% of its sales are biopharmaceuticals and the rest chemical products.
The company's strongest countries in Asia are South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China, said Mr Kley.
"I strongly believe Asean has a chance to compete with these markets head on, but it is too early to see what it will mean for Merck," he said.
Despite the strong growth potential in Southeast Asia, he cautioned that unity in the region is a difficult undertaking.
"We have seen this in the European Union. The process of abolishing customs duties in an economic union is a cumbersome project," he said.
Panya Kitcharoenkankul, the managing director of Merck Thailand, said sales grew by about 10% last year despite lacking certain types of medicine following the massive flood.
Merck's pharmaceutical business grew by 7-8%, surpassing the overall industry's growth of 5%, she said.
About the author
- Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
Position: News Reporter