WCEC to boost China ties

WCEC to boost China ties

4,000 business leaders expected at meet

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) 2022 summit in November last year. (Photo: Government House)
Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) 2022 summit in November last year. (Photo: Government House)

More than 4,000 Chinese business leaders are expected to attend the 16th World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention (WCEC) in Bangkok in June, giving an added boost to the economy and the tourism sector, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Narongsak Putthapornmongkol, president of the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said the meeting would be held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre from June 24–26.

He said that usually, founding members of the WCEC -- Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong -- take turns hosting the meeting every two years.

However, this meeting, which was scheduled to take place in Malaysia in 2021, had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he added.

Mr Narongsak said a reception would be organised on June 24 to welcome attendees, with Thai dishes popular among Chinese people, such as tom yam goong, to be served to guests.

The Hong Kong chief executive, John Lee, will be invited to deliver an opening speech, he said.

Mr Narongsak added that executives from the public and private sectors would also give talks on Thai-China relations at the event.

"The Hong Kong leader will be invited as a key speaker, and Dhanin Chearavanont, senior chairman of the Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, will also be invited to speak at the meeting," he said.

"Several prominent figures from Thailand, China and other countries will also be invited," he said, adding separate group sessions will also be held to discuss a range of trade and investment topics.

On June 26, attendees will take part in recreational activities such as golfing or sightseeing at temples. Some will also visit potential investment sites they are interested in, Mr Narongsak said.

Attendees will also have an opportunity to bring along family members with them on their visit to Thailand, which is expected to boost tourism, he said.

He added the idea behind the meeting is to accelerate recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic eased, and promote Thailand among Chinese businessmen worldwide.

The meeting is also intended to follow up on efforts to attract investors from China via the Board of Investment, he added.

Last year, despite the pandemic, Chinese investors brought about 45 billion baht to the industrial, agricultural, food processing and textile sectors, he said, adding the electronics component manufacturing sector is worth 14 billion baht.

Following China's recent reopening, some Chinese businessmen had contacted the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to hold talks on future investment opportunities in Thailand, including companies manufacturing electric vehicles.

"However, despite China reopening its border on Jan 8, a sudden influx of Chinese arrivals has not materialised," he said.

Arrivals are mostly students, businessmen, those visiting relatives and those seeking medical treatment in Thailand, rather than those in large organised group tours, he said.

Lin Wei, an adviser to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said Thailand's turn has come to host the WCEC meeting.

Attendees will comprise Chinese nationals and members of the Chinese diaspora from several different countries, he said.

Thai-Chinese business organisations based in Thailand will also take part in the meeting.

The government is working out measures to handle the eventual return of Chinese tourists, as about 300,000 of them are still expected to arrive in the first quarter of this year after Beijing decided to lift travel curbs on Jan 8.

A sudden influx is not expected yet as the Chinese government is still imposing its own travel conditions, including RT-PCR tests for both inbound and outbound travellers.

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