Investors turning to Latin America

World Cup, Olympics make Brazil attractive

The private sector is being urged to tap more trade and investment opportunities in Latin America, particularly Brazil, host of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

“Latin America is one of the great potential new markets for Thailand, given its vast population and resources as well as high purchasing power,” said Somkiat Anuras, vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC).

He was part of a trade mission to Brazil and Panama from July 20-29 that was led by Thailand Trade Representative Vachara Panchet.

“But most Thai exporters remain reluctant to tap into the region,” said Mr Somkiat.

He said a TCC survey found export potential to Latin America especially good for furniture, food, plastics, spa products, herbs, auto parts and construction materials.

The chamber recently revised up its projection for Thai exports to Latin America to US$7.5 billion this year and at least $15 billion annually five years from now.

An earlier forecast called for only $5 billion this year and $10 billion by 2015.

Mr Somkiat said that Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy and the world’s eighth largest, offered particularly good potential for Thai investors and exporters.

“The world is now eager to trade with Brazil due to its high and rising purchasing power and huge population of 192 million,” he said.

“More importantly, Brazil will host the next World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, which will provide opportunities for Thai contractors and souvenir producers.”

As the host of the world’s two biggest sporting events, Brazil will have to embark upon more construction for basic infrastructure, buildings, offices and residences as well as sports arenas, hospitals, hotels and shopping complexes, said Mr Somkiat. In this regard, he suggests Thai investors try to forge joint ventures with Brazilian investors.

Thai exports to Brazil were valued at US$1.22 billion (38.9 billion) last year, mainly automobiles and parts, rubber and machinery. However, Thailand suffered a deficit of $880 million with that country due to imports totalling $2.1 billion, mainly plants and related products, steel and steel products, other metals and jewellery.

Visit Limprana, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries’ Food Industry Club, said Panama also offered a great potential for Thai investments, particularly in the food industry.

“Thailand could use the 77-kilometre Panama Canal … to distribute Thai goods to the rest of Latin America and the United States, thanks to the canal’s location as a perfect spot to serve as a food distribution centre,” he said.

The FTI recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Supermarket 99, the biggest supermarket in Panama, to promote fruits, foods and other products from Thailand. At least one food distribution centre will be set up in Panama.

Last year, Thai food exports to Panama were valued at 173 million baht, up from 124 million baht in 2008.

Thailand’s overall exports to that country totalled 6.33 billion baht last year, up from 5.61 billion baht in 2008. The main products were autos and parts, television sets and components.

Imports from Panama were valued at 512 million baht last year, up from 108 million baht in 2008, mainly steel and steel products.

The Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Thailand Trade Representative Office and the embassies of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Panama and Cuba will jointly host the Latin Business Forum 2010 in Bangkok on Nov 18 in a bid to promote trade and investment between Thailand and the region.

If you want to invest in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile or Brazil contact us a

felipegonzalezvergara@gmail.com

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