Blogger: Mrs. Jaruwan Suwannasat, Director, Exhibition and Events Department of TCEB
Thailand has some attractive neighbours. To our east, land reforms are propelling Vietnam towards becoming one of the world’s leaders of agricultural products. But the country’s rapidly developing economy means even agriculture is now being outstripped by other developing industries – including significant investment in robotics.
Unsurprisingly, Thailand is making a concerted effort to expand trade with its neighbour to the East. According to Vietnam’s Foreign Investment Agency, Thai investments in the country rose to more than US$9bn, making Thailand its 10th largest investor.
The core interest of Thai firms is currently in Vietnam’s machinery manufacture, food and forestry processing, construction, wholesale and retail networks, as well as machinery repair. In return Vietnamese firms are looking to Thailand for – according to TCEB’s most recent exhibition audit – food & agriculture business, health & wellness and automotive. In exhibition terms, the top Thai exhibitions for the Vietnamese market, in terms of attendance, are currently the food and horticulture events VIV Asia, Food Ingredients Asia, plastics and rubber event T-PLAS and process and packaging show ProPak Asia, all of which accounted for 51 per cent of Vietnam’s total visitors in 2015. It is an active participant in Thailand’s trade shows, contributing 6.63 per cent of total overseas visitors in 2010-2015.
Exhibitions play a key role in facilitating trade and export between countries, and by using Thailand – the leading launch pad to enter the ASEAN network – organisers have access to places such as Vietnam, an emerging MICE market worth investing in. Vietnam has already played host to the APEC and the ASEAN Summit, proof that it is ready to organise and host prestigious international events.
Both countries are united – via a recently-agreed MoU – behind the development and education of the next generation of international exhibition executives.
Speaking at the recent Vietnam Goods Fair 2016 in Thailand, in which more than 50 Vietnamese enterprises showcased their products, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu spoke of two-way trade between the two countries reaching US$11.5bn in 2015. This makes Thailand Vietnam’s leading commercial partner in the ASEAN region and Vietnam Thailand’s fourth largest partner in the region, he commented.
While the number of major international events in Vietnam is still small compared with other countries in ASEAN, great opportunities can be built with the help of TCEB in Thailand. For MICE investors and entrepreneurs keen on working Vietnam, the adage rings true: we are two countries; but one destination.