-A Monitor Report
Dhaka : Thailand is eager to invest in sectors like tourism, agro-processing, textiles and services but lack of infrastructure and utility services and delays in getting projects approved stood out as hurdles.
Piyawat Niyomrerks, Vice Minister for Industry of Thailand said this while talking to a select media at Pan Pacific Sonargaon on December 22.
"We are keen to set up a hospital in Bangladesh as a large number of people go to Thailand for treatment or checkup. Thai doctors will serve along with local registered physicians."
"We are also interested to invest in the hospitality sector especially building hotels and resorts as we have long experience in tourism," he said.
"We are ready for upstream textiles and real estate sectors. But the country's laws and regulations, high tariff and fluctuating exchange rate hindered investment," he said.
Niyomrerks said working permit for foreign investors should be increased to ten years from the existing five years as the present timeframe is too short to train people here.
He requested the government to make the investment authority more efficient and effective by launching one stop service to facilitate investment.
He suggested setting up of EPZs for Thai investors. "EPZs in Dhaka and Chittagong are full," he said.
"Our businessmen have also put emphasis on setting up of a Thai investment zone and ensuring security of lives and property," he said.
Despite that there is US$143 million worth of Thai investment in Bangladesh including construction, construction materials, wiring and cables, trading in consumer products and bottling of mineral water.
On a query about the resumption of flights to Chittagong by Thai Airways, he said he will take up the issue with the airline's management. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also raised the issue of recommencement of flights to the country's commercial capital during formal talks with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
On reducing the trade gap between the two countries, he said, "We would like to invest more here in Bangladesh to trim down the trade gap. We will discuss the issue of duty-free access for Bangladesh-made goods to Thailand according to our laws and those of WTO."
"We are quite confident and happy with the situation in Bangladesh right now," he said adding, "I think the business people would be pleased to invest here if they get sufficient information."
Trade is largely in favour of Thailand. Bangladesh exported goods worth US$ 51.43 million while imported goods worth US$ 879.52 million in fiscal year 2011-12.
The Thai minister spoke on promoting road and sea connectivity among Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand. "Connectivity among ASEAN and SAARC countries is very important for economic development of the region," he said.
Replying to another question, he said the Thai government is considering exempting visa processing for blossoming tourism potentials.
"We have decided to exempt visa requirement for the ASEAN countries and the Bangladesh is in the pipeline," he said.
Replying to a question on manpower recruitment, "We used to recruit workers from our neighbouring countries but now we encourage Thai entrepreneurs to go where labourers are abundant."
"We don't encourage labour-intensive industry in Thailand. We are now giving priority to environment friendly green industries that use alternative or renewable energy," Niyomrerks said.
Udom Wongviwatchai, Secretary General, Board of Investment, Vasana Mututanont, Dy Secy General, Sithipit Dhanasobhon, Adviser to the Ministry of Industry and other Thai officials were also present.