China might grab the headlines as Australia’s biggest trading partner, but Thailand is no sleeper when comes to trade and investment opportunities.
As Australia’s sixth largest two-way trading partner and the second biggest economy in South East Asia with a GDP just shy of $650m, Thailand has a diverse industrial sector and is a regional manufacturing hub.
AusThai Capital CEO Brendon Barnes says establishing business ties with Thailand is not as difficult for WA businesses looking to stretch their wings as they may think.
As part of the free Thailand: Taking off to New Heights seminar – organised by the Thai Board of Investment and CCI’s International Trade and Investment Centre – Barnes will provide a case study of doing business in Thailand.
AusThai Capital has been trialling a 1500-head of cattle feedlot in the northern Thai province of Surin after Barnes saw an opportunity when cattle numbers fell dramatically in Thailand between 2007 and 2014.
He had initial dealings with Thailand when he set up the back office facility for his WA financial advisory business as well as involvement in a mini mart with a computer centre.
After several years of trials and with cattle showing weight gains of 1.8-2.4kg a day, the business is now at the stage of setting up a processing plant 800m away with an Australian butcher joining the nine full-time workers next week.
The feedlot sources local cattle for local markets, with a 120-day turn around in the feedlot. The business hopes to hone its focus to premium markets for Angus and Charolais breeds.
“On top of that, there’s potential for exporting 30,000 cattle which normally is only 800 from Australia. That would never ever happen if people don’t open the door.
“We’ve got the only import export licence between provinces. When we get up and running in the next 18 months I’ll be able to import cattle directly from Australia to our feedlot.”
The returns make it worth it: “Farming in Australia, you’ll get between 2 and 9 per cent. We’ll make 100 per cent profit, so that’s where the return is. It’s taken us 3.5 years to get where we are at with trials etc.”
Office of Thailand Board of Investment Director Salil Wisalswadi, also a keynote, said the seminar will look at investment opportunities in Thailand in advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, biotech and higher education and outline how the board facilitates inward investment into Thailand.
“We are moving to transform our economy into an innovation economy,” he said.
“We have already successfully moved from an agricultural base to a manufacturing base but at this moment we would like to transform to the new level of innovation.
“We have to accept that we need some technology from foreign countries in order to develop ourselves. By doing this it can be of benefit to the investors who already exist in Thailand.”