Chamber urges bolder Myanmar approach

Chamber urges bolder Myanmar approach

Thai businesses want the government to help them enter or expand into the Myanmar market by conducting more official visits to the neighbouring country, according to the AEC Strategy Centre at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

Centre director Pussadee Polsaram said more official visits and business trips to exchange information between Thai and Myanmar business people could stimulate trade and investment.

The main problem for Thais setting up or expanding a business in Myanmar is lack of connections in the country, she said.

"The Thai government should set up trips led by the prime minister or deputy prime minister to introduce Thai businesses to local businesses just like the Chinese and the Vietnamese governments have done," Ms Pussadee said.

The two countries could hold talks at an administrative level from time to time to foster cooperation.

Myanmar businesses are concerned about the credibility of foreign investors, Ms Pussadee said. The Thai government could help by setting up a government agency to affirm the credit of Thais seeking to invest in Myanmar.

The Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion and the Board of Investment have also provided some in-depth analysis and information about Myanmar investment.

Another potential avenue is setting up consulate offices and trade promotion centres in major Myanmar cities to assist investors and traders and provide financial support.

Because Myanmar's trade and investment regulations change rapidly, Thai companies invested there should seek local partners or hire local advisers to guide them, Ms Pussadee said.

Payment issues are another classic problem of doing business in Myanmar, since currency exchange is typically handled in the black market and is unreliable.

The Thai government has not taken a proactive approach to Myanmar, said Niyom Wairatpanij, a vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

The government should ease trade and investment along the border by setting up more checkpoints, he said.

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