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Thai Representatives Promote U.S. Investments

Thai Representatives Promote U.S. Investments

San Diegans Among Attendees at Beijing Industry Conference


International Business


by Mandy Jackson, Staff Writer

Sakthip Krairiksh, Thailand’s ambassador to the United States, was in San Diego early this month meeting with top management at Qualcomm Inc.

During his visit May 3-7, the ambassador discussed Qualcomm and its CDMA technology, which is being used in many Asian countries, but not Thailand , yet.

“I hope Qualcomm can do business in Thailand,” Krairiksh said. “I’m very impressed by the rapid progress the company has already made.”

The ambassador also met with several other business leaders in San Diego on May 6 to discuss Thailand’s economy and opportunities for investment in the country.

“Our economy is now on the road to recovery. Although we were the first to trigger the recession in 1997, we are the first to recover,” he said.

Exports have picked up in Thailand, a nation of 61.8 million people. The country’s top exports are electronic components, computer chips, jewelry, food products and seafood.

The gross domestic product was projected to grow 1.8 percent in 2002. The projection was amended last month to 3 percent.

Krairiksh said Thailand has reformed its economic system. Many state-run enterprises will be privatized, such as oil, electricity generation, communications and railroad industries. The country is encouraging foreign investors to make bids.

The automobile industry is one of the biggest areas of foreign investment in Thailand. The big three U.S. automakers as well as Japan’s Nissan, Honda and Toyota have operations there.

Krisda Piampongsant, commercial minister from Thailand’s embassy in Washington, D.C., said tourism continues to be the biggest Thai industry, with 10 million visitors each year. Tourism hasn’t been affected much by the events of Sept. 11, except that European and other travelers opted for Thailand instead of America.

Foreign companies have invested heavily in Thailand in the areas of information technology and computers, Piampongsant said. Technology products make up about 25 percent of the country’s exports.

Krairiksh said Thailand wants to encourage small- to medium-sized enterprises to invest in the country, because their operations are more flexible. More technology-oriented investment is being encouraged, as well as support services for established industries.

Owners of Thai Export Jewelry LLC in San Diego talked to the ambassador about the country’s lowered quota for jewelry production. The company was producing 2 to 3 kilos of gold jewelry per week in Thailand but is now restrained to 1 to 2 kilos.

The jewelry company produces 24-karat gold jewelry, sometimes using precious gems. At its National City operation, the company has a retail store and a customer service operation for its wholesale business.

“Thailand is one of the top five countries in terms of taking in revenue for jewelry. There’s always an income, no matter how the economy fluctuates,” said Tanasin Aroonsakool of Thai Export Jewelry.

The 25-year-old company’s main business is as a wholesaler in 27 states. It buys gold in the U.S. and makes the traditional Thai jewelry in Thailand.

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Chinese Entertainment: Rob Appel, a producer and director from San Diego, will address Chinese government and cultural officials at the International Cultural Entertainment Industry Conference from May 21 to 24 in Beijing.

Appel said he is “remarkably flattered” by the invitation from the Beijing Cultural Center Development Corp., which is developing a new cultural center being completed in October 2003.

Various representatives from Broadway, film, television, entertainment law, cultural centers, special events and the recording industry have been invited from the United States, Europe and Japan to advise the government and other officials on running and marketing a cultural center.

The speakers invited to the conference will be considered to help produce a Broadway-style show to open Beijing’s new center in November.

Appel will speak about producing gala events, such as SummerQuest 2002, which he is currently producing. The dance concert is a fund-raiser to benefit HIV/AIDS research and care June 8 at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.

John Haynes, who is stepping down in June as president and CEO of the California Center of the Arts, Escondido, will also attend. Zhu Mingying, a Chinese singing star and developer of the Beijing Cultural Center, visited the Escondido center early this month.

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Panama Planning: Ninyo & Moore, a geotechnical and environmental sciences consulting company in San Diego, provided preliminary geotechnical and evaluation services for the 840-acre Colonias de C & #225;rdenas master-planned community in Panama City, Panama.

Send international business news to Jackson via fax at (858) 571-3628 or via e-mail at mjackson@sdbj.com. Call her at (858) 277-6359, Ext. 114.

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