Aussie SMEs leery of Thai politics

Aussie SMEs leery of Thai politics

Australian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are hesitant to invest in Thailand because of perceived political uncertainty, says the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce.

Leigh Scott-Kemmis, president of AustCham Thailand, said the perception has been built over time and is very difficult to overcome.

"Though the sentiment can't be dismissed, it was overplayed. The Thai private sector, in fact, is very robust and problems are usually aligned with a financial crisis and not politics," he said.

Mr Scott-Kemmis pointed out Australian investments in Thailand have remained relatively low to date, totalling A$2.8 billion in 2012.

"We hope to get a 100% increase in business here in six to 12 months since there is not much to begin with," he said.

To educate Australians about the Thai business atmosphere, AustCham developed the Australian Business Forum (ABF) initiative. Supported by the Australian government through the Asian Century Business Engagement Plan, the ABF will be at the forefront of AustCham's efforts to attract more Australian businesses to Thailand.

Initially, the ABF will hold a series of luncheons before expanding later to full-function business forums.

Executive director Mark Carroll said the ABF aims to create a close-knit Australian-related business community through business networking between both countries, especially SMEs.

Simon Shale, general manager of packaging firm Visy Packaging (Thailand) Ltd, will be one of the speakers at the first ABF luncheon in Bangkok next week.

Two more ABF forums will be organised this year, in Pattaya and Phuket.

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