Despite being sporadically hit by political turmoil over the past decade, Mr Kuldej Sinthawanarong, Managing Partner at Consulus Jarken in Thailand, explains why Thailand still has the ability to host a thriving business landscape. In this interview with the Columnist, he also talks about the bright possibilities that await the country in 2016.
What is your wish for Thailand in 2016?
We live in a time of rapid change. After collectively working long and hard, we have established the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and I wish for the continued success of ASEAN. This establishment has sent a very strong signal to the world that Thailand together with other member states can become stronger by building a greater community based on shared cultures, communal progress and seamless connectivity.
What will be the most significant event in your country in 2016?
There are a number of infrastructure projects that the government has put in place that would undoubtedly shake our sleeping economy awake. Most critically, our population is ageing more rapidly than that of the European countries. This is far more vital than our politics and economy. It concerns education, communication, business and the transformation of our roles in the domestic economy.
What challenges does Thailand face?
I think we all know to some extent that we long for a stable government. As we are in a period of transition, it is not easy to predict the exact challenges that would arise. Nevertheless, despite the day-to-day problems, we need to remain focused on the longer term structural changes in the economy as this would ultimately enable us to come up with an appropriate approach to tackle those issues head-on and in a timely manner.
What is the one opportunity in your country that outsiders are not aware of?
I truly believe that Thailand still has strong fundamentals, political clarity, and a unique cultural identity which have all helped the country to navigate through difficult times and reassure confidence in both domestic and international investors. We do have financial stability, an adaptive short-term policy mix, and close cooperation between the public and private sectors. Promising opportunities still remain for Thailand to achieve sustainable long-term growth. Besides, Thailand also has a solid foundation as a tourist destination and the tourism revenue is forecast to grow nearly 9 percent to reach 2.4 trillion baht (US$ 66.12 billion) this year.
We cannot talk about one country without mentioning about its signature dish. So what dish will you recommend to someone who visits your country for the first time in order to introduce your culture and why?
Thai food needs little introduction. I would recommend Tom Yam Kung, a versatile dish that can be enjoyed with any meal.
I suggest that you give it a try at various local shops and compare the differences. You would be amazed at how locals could make something totally diverse and distinctive out of a dish that bears the same name. That represents how diverse the Thais are and how “spicy” we can be.
Thank you for joining us and Happy New Year!