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Thai-Lao business in Mukdahan

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Across Mekong River from Savannakhet (2nd biggest city in Laos), Mukdahan set to become thriving business center.

Passengers rush to board a bus crossing the border in Mukdahan to Savannakhet in Laos. NAREERAT WIRIYAPONG


AEC holds promise for Mukdahan 

Province near Laos expects trade to boom


Nareerat Wiriyapong

MUKDAHAN : Despite unclear investment rules in Laos, small Thai businesses along the Mekong River are keen to put their feet on the soil in the country next-door in high hopes for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in late 2015.

Sahakij Car Care has acquired two land plots in Savannakhet province in southern Laos for new branches in the next few years, adding to two existing auto care centres in Mukdahan and Nakhon Phanom.

Situated on the banks of the Mekong river opposite Mukdahan, Savannakhet is the second-biggest city in Laos at 1.2 million in population, with growing industrial development in copper, gold and potash mines.

"We plan to open the first branch in Savannakhet when the AEC opens more opportunity to do business in Laos," said Vutthiphat Satjamukda, founder of Sahakij Car Care.

Some 20% of the firm's 150 clients each day are from Laos, where car centres are smaller and have fewer services.

General manager Vichien Sajjamukda voiced concern over unsettled regulations in Laos in terms of tax and investment law.

"We also have to do a lot of training for local technicians in Laos while getting better understanding about regulations there," said Mr Vichien.

Leenawat Singhathanapat, founder of Big D Sheet Metal, said unsettled taxes in Laos have barred the company from setting up a branch there.

"You never know when one day tax officials will knock at your door and ask for a significantly higher tax rate that you have to pay," he said.

Nonetheless, booming construction in Laos has given the maker of roofing products and pipes an opening for when free-flowing trade begins under the AEC.

About 5% of its sales go to customers from Savannakhet, with the rest serving locals in Mukdahan and nearby provinces.

According to the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), trade between Thailand and Laos at Mukdahan reached 80 billion baht in the first half of the year, compared with 50 billion baht in all of 2012.

The Industry Ministry said cross-border trade at Mukdahan accounts for 26% of Thai exports to Laos, which grew by 34% last year to 109 billion baht.

The Commerce Ministry said bilateral trade between Thailand and Laos rose by 24% to US$4.48 billion in 2012, with Thai exports to Laos worth $3.6 billion.

Major export items include petrol, cars, machinery and steel.

Eight Thai provinces border Laos along the Mekong River. In addition to the AEC, these areas are part of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) economic corridor.

Consumer goods, building materials and services have estimated potential growth of 5-10% a year.

"We expect cross-border trade to hit a record of 100 billion baht this year," said Chanthon Tayangkhanon, head of the FTI's Mukdahan chapter.

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account for : to be the reason why something exists or happens, to give an explanation for something bad that has happened - อธิบาย, ให้เหตุผลสำหรับ, เป็นเหตุผลของ

acquire : to get; to obtain - ได้มาซึ่ง

Asean Economic Community (AEC) : the ASEAN organization for economic cooperation between countries in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Burma, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, Laos), includes lowering of tariffs and taxes on goods shipped between countries and free labour mobility for skilled workers; a plan to create regional economic integration by 2015 - ประชาคมอาเซียน

bank : a raised area of land along the side of a river (or canal) - ริมฝั่งแม่น้ำ

bar : to officially not allow someone to do something or go somewhere - ห้าม

bilateral : involving two groups or countries - สองข้าง, เกี่ยวกับกลุ่มทางการเมืองสองกลุ่ม

bilateral trade (noun): trade between two countries; the buying and selling of goods and services between two countries -

boom : a sudden increase in trade and economic activity; a period of wealth and success - ความเจริญรุ่งเรืองทางเศรษฐกิจ

border : the official line separating two areas, regions or countries - เขตแดน อาณาเขต

branch : an office or shop representing a large company or organisation in a particular area - สาขา

chapter : a local club or organisation that is part of a much larger club or organisation - สาขา (ขององค์กร สโมสรหรือสมาคม)

client : a customer or someone who receives services of a lawyer - ลูกความ

concern : a worry - ความกังวล

construction : the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. - การก่อสร้าง

consumer : someone who buys and uses goods and services - ผู้บริโภค

consumer goods (noun): goods such as food, clothing, etc. bought and used by individual customers - เครื่องอุปโภคบริโภค, ของกินของใช้

corridor (noun): a long narrow area along which something travels - เส้นทาง, ระเบียง,เฉลียง

cross-border trade (noun): the buying and selling of goods between two countries, goods that pass through the border of the two countries -

development : the gradual growth of something so that it becomes more advanced, stronger, etc - การพัฒนา

exist : to be real; to be present in a place or situation - มีอยู่

founder (noun): a person who establishes an institution, business, or organisation - ผู้ก่อตั้ง

Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) (noun): "a development project formed by the Asian Development Bank in 1992 that brought together the six states of the Mekong River basin, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Yunnan Province, China. The GMS is a natural economic area bound together by the Mekong River, covering 2.6 million square kilometers and a combined population of around 326 million" (Source: Wikipedia) -

growth (noun): economic growth, an increase in economic activity - การเติบโต

in terms of (verb): measured by -

industrial : relating to industry - เกี่ยวกับอุตสาหกรรม

investment (noun): the act of investing money in something - การลงทุน

keen : very interested, eager or wanting (to do) something very much - สนใจ, ใจจดใจจ่อ

knock (verb): to hit something (example: knock on the door) - เคาะ, กระทุ้ง, กระแทก, กระตุก, ชน, โขก, เขก

locals : people who live in a particular place - ชาวบ้าน

machinery (noun): a piece of equipment or device that does something and gets its energy from electricity or gas - เครื่องจักร, เครื่องกล

major : very large or important - สำคัญมาก

nonetheless : despite what has just been said or done; nevertheless; even so - ถึงอย่างไรก็ตาม, ถึงอย่างนั้นก็ตาม

official : connected with the job of somebody who is in a position of authority - ที่เป็นทางการ

opportunity (noun): a chance to do something, or a situation in which it is easy for you to do something - โอกาส

opposite : across from or facing someone or something - ที่อยู่ตรงกันข้าม

pipe (noun): a long tube used for carrying water, oil, gas, etc. from one place to another place - ท่อ

plot (noun): a piece of land used for a particular purpose - ที่ดิน, ที่ดินแปลงเล็ก

population : a particular group of people or animals living in a particular area - กลุ่มที่อาศัยอยู่ในที่เดียวกัน

potential : possible in the future - ที่อาจเป็นไปได้

record : the best or most ever achieved - สถิติ

regulation : an official rule that controls the way that things are done - กฎระเบียบ

roofing (noun): building materials used to make roofs -

sheet : a thin flat piece of paper, metal, plastic, glass etc - สิ่งที่เป็นแผ่นแบน (เช่น แผ่นกระดาษ, แผ่นเหล็ก, แผ่นแก้ว)

significantly : in an important way - อย่างมีความหมาย, อย่างสำคัญ

situated : located - ระบุที่อยู่ ที่ตั้ง

soil : land owned by a country - พื้นดิน

steel (noun): a strong hard metal that is made of a mixture of iron and carbon - เหล็ก

taxes : money that you have to pay to the government so that it can pay for public services - ภาษี

technician : a person whose job is keeping a particular type of equipment or machinery in good condition - เจ้าหน้าที่เทคนิค, ช่าง

trade : the buying and selling of goods and services - การค้าขาย

training (noun): teaching people how to do a certain job or activity - การฝึกอบรม, การฝึก, การอบรม

unsettled : (of a problem or argument) not having been dealt with successfully - ยังไม่ตัดสินใจแน่นอน

voice : to express your feelings or opinions - ออกความคิด


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