“Dear Austcham Members and Friends,
“It’s my pleasure to provide the final “Message from the Chamber” for 2020.
What a year, and I am sure like many of you I am looking forward to its end, 2020 has certainly seen its fair share of challenges, first in Australia with the devastating bush fires, and of course the still current situation associated with COVID-19 we all had hoped would be behind us by now. Here in Thailand, I was especially proud of the Chamber and its many ‘Pivots’ this year to ensure continued support of our members, and I would like to take this opportunity to give you a wrap up key areas we worked on this year, and what we will continue to focus on in 2021
Firstly, I would like to thank the Australian Ambassador, H.E. Allan McKinnon and his team at the Australian Embassy for all of their support in 2020. Our partnership with the Embassy allows us to reach further into advocacy issues on behalf of our members as a means of improving business processes between Australia and Thailand. In 2020, our relationship with our Ambassador and Embassy colleagues has been highly engaging and fruitful, with immediate outcomes seen in the revived Customs Alliance program with the Thai Customs Department – keep an eye on further developments in 2021.
With regards to our Foreign Chamber Alliance (FCA) which has been a key area of focus this year, I am delighted to inform our members that the relationship with the Australian Embassy and our FCA continues to collaborate, with our Ambassadors and Chambers driving the “10 for 10” initiative. Developed by the Australian Embassy, based on feedback from members of our respective chambers, the “10 for 10” focuses on improving the Ease of Doing Business in Thailand, with an ultimate goal of seeing Thailand break into the top 10 in the World Bank ranking. Furthermore I am also very thankful that the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Japanese Ambassador is also collaborating on this specific initiative, with more joint activities planned in 2021.
We once again acknowledge our wonderful sponsors for all of their support, and thank them for driving the Chamber forward year-on-year. Our Annual Corporate Sponsors, Event and Venue Sponsors, provide support in various forms and are the backbone that allows us to deliver our three pillars promise – Business, Connections, Community. Quite simply without them the Chamber would not be able to operate, and particularly in such a challenging year their support is even more appreciated, please don’t forget to support them and of course all of our members companies, which is paramount especially in these turbulent times, as banding together we will remain stronger as a community overall.
When the world went into lockdown in March, we were able to adapt quickly, with a focus on keeping our members updated on the many changes businesses were facing at that time. Our COVID-19 Updates page on the website was very useful in navigating the crisis and was appreciated by our members. In total, we delivered over 50 webinars and published almost 200 articles and presentations from our members in 2020 – you can still access all videos, articles and presentations on our Resources page.
I’m further pleased to report that we still managed to deliver 30+ physical events in Bangkok, the Eastern Seaboard and Phuket. Overall we engaged with over 5,000 attendees at these events across our three pillars:
Business – Thai Customs Department Presentation, Small Business Showcase, Factory Tours and Member Briefings on Hospitality & Tourism, Health & Wellbeing, Leadership, Digital Marketing, Women in Leadership and Tax & Legal updates.
Connections – 12 Sundowners Networking events in Bangkok, ESB and Phuket.
Community – The Great Aussie Bash, AFL Grand Final, Golf Tournament, Aussie BBQ at the Embassy, and an online ANZAC service as well as the Annual Alumni Awards.
To relive our events, and photos from all our physical events, please visit our AustCham Facebook page
Looking back at our CSR programs, I’m proud to acknowledge that working with the Australian community in Thailand, we raised 1.2million Baht for the Australian Bushfires Appeal earlier this year. Plus a further 140,000 Baht to build a concrete sports court and donate sports equipment to Ban Had Ngiew School, a primary school near the Hellfire Pass Museum. From our CSR programs in 2020, we have a further 250,000 Baht and are finalising our next steps including the distribution for other causes in 2021, which we look forward to announcing early next year. We encourage our members to support these organisations as well, whether by financial or time/skills donations, as our donations cover only a small portion of what’s needed to provide better lives for those being supported by these groups.
I’d like to thank my fellow AustCham Directors and everyone who has assisted on sub-committees and a range of other activities and initiates this year. The same thanks to Past Presidents and Board Members who continue to contribute to the chamber beyond their term. Your support and assistance is greatly appreciated.
A special thanks to Susan Kahwati – Senior Trade & Investment Commissioner at Austrade, who has served as an Ex-Officio member of the board since 2017. Susan is relocating back to Australia at the end of this year, and on behalf of the Board and AustCham we would like to thank her for her contribution towards the chamber.
To our great AustCham office team, the dedication and work put into delivering our commitments to our Sponsors and Members can’t be understated, relocating offices, working from home, online and back to live events, they took it all in their stride and again are such a important part of the success of our Chamber for which we are all very thankful for.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge this year’s recipient of the AustCham President’s Award. Bob Coombes from Choice Foods and ‘Bangkok Bobs’, has provided tremendous support to the Chamber and its members since the chamber was established in 1977. He was actually one of the inaugural members back in 1977, AustCham Thailand is the first in ASEAN and the 2nd Oldest Australian Chamber of Commerce worldwide. Ultimately Bob has always been a part of the Australian-Thai community supporting with his time, of course his great food products at Sundowners, Australian Balls and Bashes over the years, and most recently the AFL Grand Final and BBQ at the Embassy. Even as this year unfolded as we reached out to support the community back home during the devastating Bushfires, Bob made a sizable contribution towards this, and when I rang him to thank him for the large contribution, his simple response was “Didn’t everyone, it’s just what you do in these times to help people”. We appreciate having Bob and his wife Lesley as the foundations of our community, and it gave me immense pleasure to award Bob with this recognition at our December Sundowners on behalf of AustCham.
Looking forward to 2021, starting the year with the Great Australian Bash on Saturday 16th January! We hope to see all of the Australian community there to get the year off on the right foot. We also look forward to celebrating the events of the Advance Australia Council (AAC) in 2021, as we aim to strengthen the Australian-Thai community and promote “Brand Australia” to the world!
Wishing everyone a healthy & safe Christmas and New Year!”