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Thursday, 8 August 2013

Thailand and Malaysia Hit Their Stride 2 撈油元、賺綠金 東盟雙雄馬泰爭鋒 2

Part 1

Part 2 : Thailand, the Champion of Green Industries

On Feb. 19 the Asian Wall Street Journal's front page carried a concise, exclamatory headline shouting "18.9 Percent." That figure stood for Thailand's just announced economic growth rate for the fourth quarter of 2012. Last year the country's economic growth exceeded forecasts for four consecutive quarters, resulting in an annual GDP growth rate of 6.4 percent and a 97-percent increase in foreign direct investment (FDI). In terms of GDP and FDI growth, Thailand now holds the ASEAN crown.

Thailand's attractiveness as an investment destination was not dented at all by the disastrous floods of 2011, as domestic demand remained strong and industrial restructuring continued unaffected.

The success of Thailand's economic transformation could be attributed to a nose for green business opportunities, a Midas touch that turns anything eco-friendly into gold.

Three of the industries identified by Thailand as priority industries are related to green, eco-friendly fields of business: green vehicles, green energies, and green agriculture (food). They make for the three most sparkling jewels in Thailand's crown.

Green Jewel No. 1: Food

Thailand has been called "Asia's granary," and is the world's largest exporter for a number of agricultural and livestock products such as paddy rice, cassava, tropical fruit, tropical flowers and plants, as well as fishery products. The country accounts for US$30 billion of US$200 billion worth of worldwide fish and seafood exports.

Thailand is not satisfied with being just Asia's granary, but has set itself the higher goal of becoming "the kitchen of the world."

Rarely has a country been able to reach as much market dominance with its foodstuffs as Thailand.
American hypermarket chain Costco sources all its shrimp wonton, carved squid, and tail-on tiger shrimp from Thailand. Thai Jasmine rice, Tao Kae Noi crispy seaweed snacks, green and red curry paste, Tom Yum Soup paste – all kinds of Thai spices and condiments such as fish sauce can be found in virtually every supermarket and hypermarket across Taiwan.

Lu Hsin-he, a National Taiwan University student who spent some time in Sweden, noticed that Thai foodstuffs were the only Asian food items readily available in Swedish stores.

It is somewhat hard to imagine that a country with a population of just 60 million people can rank top worldwide in so many areas. And all these top spots are somehow related to food. Thailand boasts the world's largest livestock company and the largest fish cannery.

Aside from American fast food, Thai food can claim to be the foreign cuisine with the highest penetration rate worldwide.

Green Jewel No. 2: Energy

The second green jewel in Thailand's crown is green, renewable energies. Thailand is already Asia's largest producer of renewable energies. Energy from renewable resources accounts for 6.7 percent of the country's energy mix.

It is hard to imagine that rice straw can be used to generate electricity. Large bundles of rice straw are continuously fed into a giant incinerator. The heat of combustion turns water into steam, and the pressurized steam is used to drive a turbine for electricity generation. The remaining ash is recycled for use in fertilizer.

In addition to rice straw, Thailand uses other sources of biomass – such as cassava, wood pulp, sugarcane leaves and bagasse, oil palm frond, woodchips and sawdust – to generate power or make fertilizer. Thailand is a leading producer of all these agricultural crops, which means a never-ending supply of agricultural waste biomass.

The government strongly supports biomass-to-energy projects through tax incentives, direct subsidies and public-private joint ventures. Presently some 440 renewable energy plants are operating or under construction in Thailand.

"We need more in this sector. Investments from Taiwan are very welcome. We are targeting renewable energy ratio to 25 percent by 2020," says Duangjai Asawachintachit, deputy secretary general of the Thailand Board of Investment.

Green Jewel No. 3: Vehicles

The third green jewel in Thailand's crown is green vehicles.

During the severe flooding in 2011, nearly 1,000 factories in seven industrial zones were inundated by floodwaters.

At the time, the international media's verdict on Thailand's future was unanimous: Thailand's economy had been sunk for good, because its two major growth drivers, tourism and foreign investment, had gone under. The tourists had been scared away by the Red Shirt anti-government street protests, while the floods had swept away foreign investors.

But one year after the devastating floods, not one of the some 1,300 companies from Japan, Thailand's largest foreign investor, has pulled out of the country.

Foreign investors are not interested in leaving Thailand, because the country has positioned itself clearly, and business remains lucrative.

In the year of the flood crisis, Japanese investment increased by 86 percent. In the first 11 months of the following year, Japanese investors poured 61 percent more funds into Thailand than during all of 2011. Total FDI inflows also increased 97 percent in 2012 over the previous year.

A closer look at Japanese production and sales in Thailand shows that green vehicles and green appliances almost doubled last year. "These two sectors surely are what Japan investors are focusing on," says Dungjai. "Toyota just opened a 100-thousand-unit ecocar assembly plant."

Under the leadership of the government, Thailand has become Asia's second largest green vehicle R&D center and manufacturer behind Japan. In 2012, almost 700,000 green vehicles rolled off Thai assembly lines. That's more than Taiwan's annual production of 640,000 vehicles of all categories combined.

Thailand produces a broad range of green vehicles including gasoline-electric hybrid cars, battery electric vehicles, natural gas-powered cars, and solar vehicles.

"We urgently need investment by Taiwanese manufacturers of automobile parts and components," laments Dungjai. "We are not able to meet demand for various parts for eco-friendly vehicles, in particular automatic transmissions, storage batteries, regenerative braking systems, electronic stability control systems and car electronics."

In 2011, Thailand ranked 14th worldwide in terms of vehicle output. Originally, the country planned to squeeze into the top ten by 2014. But unexpectedly it reached that target last year, because of soaring demand in Asia and Latin America, reveals Piengjai Kaewsuwan, president of the Thai Automobile Industry Association.

Last year, Thailand's vehicle output jumped to 2.65 million vehicles, a 105-percent increase. About one half of Thai-made vehicles are exported into more than 130 countries around the globe, making Thailand the world's sixth largest automobile exporter.

Aside from being the second largest producer of green vehicles, Thailand surpassed the United States as the largest manufacturer of 1-ton pickup trucks three years ago.

Piengjai points out that the car penetration rate in Southeast Asia stands at just 50 vehicles per 1,000 people. "The Thai auto industry can expect to post rapid double-digit growth for at least another five years," he predicts.

Thailand benefits from its geostrategic location and industrial structure. From a number of regional developments, be it the ASEAN Free Trade Area to be launched in 2015, broader regional cooperation in ASEAN Plus One (China) and ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan, South Korea) or the political reforms in neighboring Burma, Thailand is consistently emerging as the biggest winner.

A big chunk of new Japanese investment in Thailand is due to the country's proximity to the lucrative markets of China, India and Burma, which makes it an ideal production and distribution base. On top of that, domestic economic prospects are "very bright" as well, thanks to Thailand's young, consumption-oriented population of 60 million people.

By Monique Hou
From Taiwan CommonWealth Magazine
Published: March 06, 2013 (No.517)

Translated from the Chinese by Susanne Ganz

撈油元、賺綠金 東盟雙雄馬泰爭鋒 1

撈油元、賺綠金 東盟雙雄馬泰爭鋒 2







粮仓之后,泰国的目标升级,要做“世界的厨房”(The Kitchen of the World)。









“我们还需要更多,欢迎大家来投资。2020年,再生能源占比要提高到25%,”泰国投资局副秘书长邓彩(Duangjai Asawachintachit)指出。










2012年,泰国汽车产量世界排名第14,原本计划14年挤进10大。“没想到,因为亚洲和拉丁美洲的需求增加太快,去年就达成了,”泰国汽车业协会主席——丘撤旺(Piengjai Kaewsuwan)说。







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