Chinese, Thai firms ride novel chances

Date: 03 Dec 2021

About two hours' drive from downtown Bangkok, near the Laem Chabang port in eastern Thailand, is a well-planned industrial zone, the Thai-Chinese Rayong industrial zone.

Jointly built by China's Holley Group and Amata Group of Thailand in 2006, the industrial zone is one of the first Chinese overseas industrial sites and has become a testament to and miniature of the win-win cooperation and common development between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.

Now home to more than 170 Chinese-invested companies, mostly in automobile, electronics and machinery sectors, the industrial zone has attracted a combined investment of more than $4 billion from China and provided more than 40,000 local jobs.

Himile Group, a major tire mold supplier headquartered in East China's Shandong province, set up a factory in the zone in 2014.

"Most of our clients, the world's top tire producers, have built their production bases in ASEAN member states. We want to move closer to them ... to serve the Southeast Asian market," said Qiu Jinliang, managing director of Himile's Thai branch.

Over the past seven years, the plant's production and business revenue have expanded 60 percent annually, Qiu said, noting that this year has been challenging because of the COVID-19 outbreak in Thailand as well as rising raw material costs and freight rates.

"We've managed to maintain the levels of production and sales as those of last year, thanks to improved production procedures and efficiency," he said.

Upbeat about the company's development outlook, Qiu said the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership-RCEP-agreement next year will enable the company to purchase raw materials and equipment as well as distribution of products more conveniently and at a lower cost.

The Chinese company is working to build a new factory near the existing plant to expand its production capacity, which will further lift the company's sales revenue, he said.

The Thai-Chinese Rayong industrial zone was established and fostered by the comprehensive cooperation between China and ASEAN, while its development has been put on fast track after the Belt and Road Initiative was unveiled, said Zhao Bin, president of the Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Realty Development Co, operator of the industrial zone.

At a special summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the ASEAN-China dialogue and relations which was held online recently, the two sides jointly upgraded their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

The comprehensive strategic partnership, a new milestone in the China-ASEAN relations, and the upcoming entry into force of the RCEP agreement will further enhance bilateral cooperation and create more business opportunities, Zhao said.

Since China and ASEAN forged their dialogue relations in 1991, comprehensive cooperation between the two sides has given a strong boost to their economic and social development, brought tangible benefits to their peoples, and made great contributions to peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world at large, analysts said.

Trade volume between China and ASEAN had soared from less than $8 billion in 1991 to more than $680 billion in 2020, when China remained ASEAN's largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years, while ASEAN became China's largest trading partner.

China and ASEAN are set to further expand cooperation and move toward building a closer community with a shared future, which will make new contributions to regional peace, stability and prosperity, said Natee Taweesrifuengfung, president of the Thailand-based Siam Think Tank.

Source: China Daily

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