"Dear members, welcome to this edition of Advance.
It is hard to believe that we are now moving into April. It didn’t seem that long ago we were gearing up for Christmas and the New Year Break. This probably reflects how the Chamber is having a very active start to the year and it only looks like getting busier.
As many of you know, we recently held our Annual General Meeting which together with ‘Sundowners’ was wonderfully hosted by the Grand Hyatt in Bangkok. At our AGM we elected half of our Board Members under our new rotational board structure, and it is fantastic to welcome both Benjamin Kreig to the Board for the first time and also welcome back ML Kridakon Laksasubha who has been a long time contributor to Austcham.
On the advocacy front, we have also had a very busy start to the year, reaching out to senior officials in the Thai government and working with the Australian Embassy to help forward the business concerns of our Members.
The year started off with a small delegation of Austcham Members visiting Deputy Prime Minister, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong at Government House on issues relating to the government’s efforts to support the digital cconomy in Thailand. The meeting also included officials from counterpart Ministries, such as Labour, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Digital Economy. The meeting discussed a range of issues, in particular, easing restrictions around foreign investments in start-ups who wish to base themselves in Thailand.
Also in January, the Chamber had a visit from senior officials from the Thai Customs Department, led by Mr Kulit Sombatsiri, the Director General. Austcham prepared a submission based on the feedback of Austcham Members and focused on a number of key issues facing Australian businesses in Thailand. This included consistency in customs procedures and directives, as well as illegal smuggling and intellectual property issues surrounding the branding of Australian produce sold into Thailand. In this substantive meeting Khun Kulit outlined a new ‘Customs Alliance’ programme, which would facilitate faster and more transparent processing for Australian importers into Thailand – designed to minimise bureaucratic blockages and effectively create a virtual ‘green channel’ for selected Australian importers.
As a follow up to this meeting, the Australian Embassy in February hosted a presentation by both Australian and Thai Customs officials to further explain the ‘Customs Alliance’ programme – and we were grateful that Australian Ambassador Mr Paul Robilliard was personally able to welcome attendees. Austcham has been working closely with Thai Customs, Australian Border Force and Austrade to further understand and promote the ‘Customs Alliance’ programme. We encourage our Members to enrol for this programme by contacting the Chamber and we will forward your details to customs directly. For non-members who are interested in the ‘Customs Alliance’ programme, membership of Austcham is an essential pre-requisite to register, so we encourage you to contact the Chamber about enrolling.
Finally, on Australian immigration matters, we were able to hold an informal round table with the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection discussing visa and work permit issues faced by major Thai investors into Australia. We were joined by senior executives from Thai Board of Trade, PTT, Mitr Pol, Minor Group and Banpu to discuss common problems.
As you can see, the year has been kicked off to a busy start on the advocacy front. I look forward to hearing Members’ feedback and questions on these or any other issues.
In the meantime, please enjoy this edition of Advance and I hope you have a relaxing Songkran break."