Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

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Burma is Opening for Business

July 17, 2013

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center. 

Burma could become the next market for your goods and services.

Burma could become the next market for your goods and services.

After decades of political and economic isolation, Burma is slowly opening to the world. The U.S. government has issued a general license making it easier for American companies to do business there.

While a trade relationship formalizes between the United States and Burma, the International Trade Administration office in Bangkok, an hour’s flight away, will assist U.S. companies with market intelligence and business matchmaking in Burma. Senior Commercial Service Officer Mike McGee recently met with U.S. business leaders interested in exporting to Burma. While in town, he talked with International Trade Specialist Doug Barry of the Global Knowledge Center.

Barry: What are opportunities that you see now in Burma for U.S. companies?

McGee: Burma has a wealth of needs. After 50 years of stagnation and isolation, pretty much everything that the country and the people desire is in need of updating or introducing. So you have a huge opportunity there for everything from consumer goods to infrastructure to medical equipment. There’s almost no sector that does not have tremendous need for introducing new companies and products into the market.

Barry: What are the major challenges of doing business there?

McGee: You can imagine the challenges with a country that has been of off the map, so to speak, for 50-plus years. There are a lot of challenges in the regulatory and legal framework. There are so many areas where the legislation is 50 to 100 years old, and for a better part of the last 40, 50 years, it hasn’t been enforced. Updating these statutes regarding introducing a product into the country, getting it registered, and getting protection for intellectual rights, are all challenges that we’re doing our best to try to support.

Barry: It sounds like an uphill climb.

McGee: The good side is that in many ways Burma is a wealthy country; it is very rich in resources. It is geographically located in one of the most important places in the world, and will have a huge bearing for many years in the Southeast Asia and East Asia Pacific regions. It is, in many ways, the linchpin for so many things.

Barry: The opportunity to get in on the ground floor in this market can be a pretty exciting prospect for U.S. companies, right?

McGee: Yes. We have been advising companies that are interested in this market to identify distributors that can help them introduce their products into the country – and most of them are doing this. One of the big sanction difficulties was financial services. With the recent easing of sanctions by the U.S. government, financial services are now available and U.S. companies can get paid.

Barry: What about distributors?

McGee: Finding the right distributor, finding the right representative for businesses is a little bit of a challenge, but we’re doing our best to try to provide some of the services that people need in order to find the right kind of partner.

The biggest element that we have going is the due diligence process because there still is a fairly sizeable list of people who are prohibited from doing business with us. It’s called the Specially Designated Nationals List managed by the U.S. Treasury Department. We offer our clients an International Company Profile service that allows us to ensure potential Burmese partners are credible and have the appropriate abilities and experience.

Our goal is to help U.S. companies steer clear of partners that may end up causing more problems than assistance.

Barry: What’s the private sector like now? We hear a lot about businesses that are run by the Burmese military. Then there are people of Indian ancestry. There are ethnic Burmese, as well as other ethnic groups.

McGee: The Burmese are a very resourceful people. While there were many sanctions that inhibited doing business with the country, exports from the United States were only sanctioned in certain elements.

There’s a lot of effort on the part of our embassy and the U.S. government in general to persuade the Burmese military to get out of the formal economy because they do manage a huge chunk of it. But there are a lot of other areas where there are businesspeople who are looking for the best products at the best price and the quality that the Burmese people need and want.

Barry: How is the U.S. perceived?

McGee: There’s the highest level of receptivity for U.S. products. We have a very, very positive image in the country. So you’re finding people – whether they’re ethnic Burmese, one of the minority groups, or from the Indian population – they are all seeking the best product lines and want to represent U.S. companies as quickly as possible.

Barry: What was it like for you on your first visit there? Plane lands, door opens…

McGee: It was a lot more vibrant than I expected. There is a great sense of pride among the Burmese people.

However, nearly 75-80 percent of the country is without electricity. Large portions of the nation’s agricultural farms are worked with no machinery. There are beautiful sections of the country – like Bagan in the north – that are ripe for travel and tourism development. The opportunities for U.S. companies to showcase their products and services are limitless.

Barry: What’s your advice for U.S. small- and medium-sized enterprises? Wait a while until things play out and settle down a bit? Or cautiously enter? Or forget about it entirely?

McGee: Begin to learn about it. Visit our website, export.gov/thailand. There’s a section on Burma. We continually update a database that provides links to resources and information our team has gathered about doing business in Burma. You can contact my team through the website to learn about the market, its opportunities, and how to get started. We want to work with U.S. companies to be able to give them the advice from our experience and to make sure that their business is successful and that they don’t run afoul of something problematic.

Barry: Can people contact you directly?

McGee: We are 12 time zones ahead of Washington, and so email me – that’s the best thing to do.

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Hundreds of U.S. Companies Find Opportunities during Trade Winds-Asia

June 5, 2012

Bill Burwell has been with the U.S. Department of Commerce for 14 years and currently serves as the Director of the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

Southeast Asia hosted its first Trade Winds event during May, World Trade Month. Organized by the International Trade Administration’s Commercial Service, more than 100 American companies participated in the trade mission. The events were hosted in Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia May 14-22.

Now in it’s fifth year, Trade Winds is an eight-day trade and business development conference, held in Asia for the first time. Those who attend Trade Winds find opportunities for business connections in key geographic regions. It is like a giant trade mission helping buyers and sellers make connections and sales.

The Trade Winds program, organized by the Mid-Atlantic region of the Commercial Service domestic network, has thus far resulted in more than $100 million worth of exports for participating U.S. companies.

The morning of the first day saw U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney officially commence the mission with a ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand where the U.S. Commercial Service had arranged more than 50 business-to-business appointments for the visiting companies.

Meanwhile, 20 additional U.S. companies spent two days exploring business development efforts in Vietnam, where the U.S. Commercial Service in Ho Chi Minh City had arranged well over 80 business to business appointments for the visiting U.S. companies.

As the mission progressed, U.S. Ambassador to Singapore David Adelman welcomed the entire Trade Winds delegation of more than 200 business representatives from 100 companies to Singapore.  These companies spent the next two days participating in a Southeast Asia regional business forum, a forum that included more than 540 one-on-one consultations with Commercial Service Senior Commercial Officers representing 14 markets across the Asia-Pacific region. An additional 216 business-to-business appointments were arranged by the Commercial Service in Singapore for the American business representatives.

By May 21 and 22, Trade Winds – Asia had turned its focus to Malaysia and Indonesia. In Jakarta, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission, Ted Osius welcomed a delegation of 17 U.S. companies while U.S. Ambassador Paul Jones similarly welcomed 10 U.S. companies to Malaysia. As with previous delegations, the U.S. Commercial Service offices in Jakarta and Kuala Lampur arranged 89 and 67 business to business appointments respectively for the visiting U.S. companies.

During the entirety of the Trade Winds – Asia conference, the U.S. Commercial Service arranged more than 500 business-to-business meetings between U.S. companies and commercial representatives in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. In addition, Commercial Service Senior Commercial Officers engaged in over 540 one on one meetings with U.S. business representatives and provided business development counseling on 14 Asia – Pacific markets.

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Featured Trade Event: Trade Winds Asia

October 4, 2011

May 14–22, 2012
Trade Winds Asia
Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam

Three Buddha stone heads, Singapore. (© Hayden Bird/iStock)

Three Buddha stone heads, Singapore. (© Hayden Bird/iStock)

East Asia is one of the most lucrative regions in the world for U.S. exporters, with growing sales during the past several years. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam together purchased more than $47.7 billion worth of U.S. merchandise in 2009 and more than $62.7 billion in 2010. Trade Winds Asia can help U.S. companies take advantage of those markets.

The central event of Trade Winds Asia will be a three-day business development conference on May 16–18, 2012, in Singapore. Before and after the conference, four separate trade missions will offer participating businesses the opportunity to visit Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, or Vietnam.

The conference location, Singapore, is home to a sophisticated and modern economy that offers excellent opportunities for U.S. firms interested in penetrating the Asian market. It offers free port status; a straightforward, English-speaking, U.S. style of doing business; strong intellectual property rights protection; and suffers from very little corruption. The country is a major trading hub. It imports and exports products from consumer goods to high-technology and industrial goods for reexport to third countries.

By participating in Trade Winds Asia, companies will benefit from a variety of events tailored to their needs, including prearranged consultations with up to 13 specialists of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service representing 14 countries, access to high-visibility business networking events with leading industry and government officials, and prearranged business meetings with representatives from firms throughout the region.

Previous Trade Winds that focused on Europe and the Americas have offered outstanding returns. One participant from last year’s Trade Winds event in Mexico said, “We had a chance to interact with local and global companies and shared experiences that cannot be learned in any other way [than] just by ‘doing it.’ The forum was a terrific channel to accelerate and enhance entering a region for us.”

The cost to participate in Trade Winds Asia ranges from $1,950 to $4,850 per company for one representative, depending on firm size and the number of mission stops. There is a $500 fee for each additional company participant in the Singapore event and $250 for each additional mission stop. Mission participants are responsible for travel, lodging, most meals, and incidentals. Applications must be received by March 30, 2012. For more information about the trade mission, visit its Web site or contact Shannon Christenbury of the USFCS, tel.: (704) 333-4886; e-mail: shannon.christenbury@trade.gov, or Judy Kornfeld of the USFCS, tel.: (703) 235-0331; e-mail: judy.kornfeld@trade.gov.

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One-on-Ones at APBO

March 28, 2011
This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Cynthia Griffin is the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Serivce’s Senior Commercial Officer in Thailand.

Where else can a U.S. company meet with U.S. Embassy Commercial Counselors from throughout the Asia Pacific region in one day?  Only at the Asia Pacific Business Outlook Conference in Los Angeles.

When the representative of a Florida-based company learned of the Asia Pacific Business Outlook Conference (APBO), she cancelled all of her planned travel to Asia to schedule one-on-one meetings in Los Angeles with Commercial Counselors from her target markets.  Through the one-on-ones, she received customized market research and market entry strategies for her product line on a country-by-country basis.  Armed with the new information gleaned from the Commercial Counselors, she has a better sense of her overall approach to entering new markets in a systematic manner throughout the region.

While it is a challenge to counsel 16 companies back-to-back, the experience is nonetheless exhilarating!!!  I, with the help of my Bangkok-based team, have learned about many new companies with products that are ripe for our market in Thailand.  Today, I met with companies in: construction management, water filtration, cosmetics, skin care, oil and gas, automotive parts, aircraft parts, telecommunications security, construction equipment, education, beverages, energy conservation, medical equipment and consumer electronics.    What a mix of companies!  And all have great opportunities in Thailand.

Below are some snapshots from my meetings with companies and a flavor of the conference that has well over 400 participants.  By all accounts, our keynote speaker during lunch, Ambassador Dino Djalal was engaging and reminded us that America needs to regain confidence and not shy away from the international community, as the international community experiences transformations.

One of my regrets today is that I was unable to participate in the keynote presentation delivered by long-time China specialist Sidney Rittenberg on “What’s Happening in the Chinese Economy–Transformation of the Growth Model.”

Tomorrow, I look forward to another productive day as we strive to double exports in line with the National Export Initiative!   See you tomorrow!

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