MONTGOMERY, Alabama – On a Southeast Asia trade mission, Alabama business officials today established new ties to counterparts in Bangkok, Thailand, while the state’s economic development leader held talks with a key Thai finance official about expanding investment and trade.
The Alabama delegation arrived late Saturday in Jakarta, Indonesia, for three days of activities before traveling to Bangkok, a city of 6.5 million people that is a major business and finance center in the region. While in the Thai capital, Alabama business officials received a briefing from U.S. Embassy officials and held matchmaking appointments with Thai business representatives.
Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield met today with Ajarin Pattanapanchai, senior executive investment advisor at the Board of Investment of Thailand. During the session, they discussed mutual opportunities for two-way industry investment and a possible visit to Alabama by Thai leaders.
At an “Alabama Advantages” luncheon later in the day, Canfield gave a presentation to 25 Thai business executives on opportunities in Alabama and described benefits such as the state’s pro-business environment and access to fast growing U.S. markets. He also spoke with representatives of Indorama Ventures, which is investing $190 million to open a PET resin manufacturing facility in Alabama.
“It is one of my goals that we will open new doors and expand existing relationships that promote Alabama exports, attract investments to our state, and encourage research and development collaborations that benefit all of our global partners,” Canfield said.
The 2014 Alabama Trade Mission to Southeast Asia is coordinated by the Alabama Department of Commerce and the Export Alabama Alliance. Other trade missions this year are planned for Europe and South America, as Alabama leaders work to expand the state’s export engine and its connection to global commerce.
While in Jakarta, the Alabama delegation received briefings from the American Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Commercial Service and attended networking sessions at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KADIN Indonesia). The delegation also had a reception at the Deputy Minister’s residence, providing additional networking sessions with government and business officials, according to Hilda Lockhart, director of the International Trade Division of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
The Alabama group travels to Singapore on Saturday for three days of activities before heading home. Companies represented in the delegation include Enterprise Electronics Corp., MapuSoft Technologies Inc., Knox Kershaw Inc., Motion Industries and Quality Valve Inc.
Alabama Department of Commerce officials believe economic activity between the state and Southeast Asia is ripe for expansion. Figures show that two-way trade between Alabama and Singapore totaled $250 million in 2013, with exports making up most of that total. Two-way trade with Thailand totaled $174 million last year and $90 million with Indonesia. All of those figures exceeded 2012 totals.
Economic activity between Alabama and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) surpassed $829 million last year. Alabama’s top exports to the region are chemicals, plastics, machinery and vehicles. ASEAN companies primarily ship apparel, wood products, furniture and boats to Alabama.