Thailand seen as a strong brand name

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Bangkok-based BYK Intertrade is a highly diversified company that has significant ties to the Middle East. Inside Investor spoke to Panpilai Baiyoke, the firm’s president, about her experiences with doing business with the GCC and where she sees mutual opportunities for investors.

Interviewee: Panpilai Baiyoke, President BYK Intertrade

BYK Intertrade, a company that is engaged in a broad range of business and trade ventures, is one of the few Thai enterprises that have a track record of doing business with Middle East countries.

The company’s president, Panpilai Baiyoke, is a seasoned businesswoman in constant search for new opportunities in the Middle East region and beyond, namely Africa. Business relations are set up by networking and matchmaking, says Baiyoke, who is also the honorary-general consul of the Kingdom of Swaziland in Thailand. Her Thai family is well connected and has set itself a landmark in the 1990s by building Thailand’s tallest tower, the 84-floor Baiyoke Tower II, in Bangkok.

BYK Intertrade is covering many sectors of trade, be it food, garments, building material, oil and gas equipment, plants and agricultural goods, machinery equipment, and even flowers (orchids). On the service side, the company offers landscaping, hotel and spa consultancy, master plans for operations and construction, gas and petroleum plant design and installation, building maintenance, hotel and hospital laundry services, energy savings services and recycling management.

Baiyoke was, for example, involved in design work for the Asian Games in Qatar, and is currently working on starting up a company in Dubai together with Egyptian partners.

“I have a lot of contacts in the area,” Baiyoke says. Other sectors she wants to engage in are trading, landscaping, recycling and the food industry.

“We want to export Thai plants into the region and do landscaping design,” Baiyoke says. And in the food sector, she wants to focus on rice and sugar export to the Middle East and on halal food.

“I see a great potential for Middle East investors to produce halal food in Thailand,” she says. Certain Thai companies have already jumped on the bandwagon of halal food producing, such as Pacific Fish Processing (PFP), Baiyoke mentions. Her hotel chain in Bangkok, Baiyoke Hotel Group, had the first halal kitchen in Bangkok and is still one of the few locations were halal food is available in a hotel restaurant in Thailand.
She also reckons that jewelry trade with the Middle East could be a promising business segment. “If somebody wants us to do this, we can do it.”

Organic food trade with GCC countries is also an expanding sector, she adds, and is a field where BYK Intertrade has a lot of expertise through a group of organic producers in Thailand working together.
Other promising ventures comprise the hospitality industry, Baiyoke says, which includes operating hotels and spas.

“We have possible partners in Qatar, and one already requested us to manage a hotel for them” says Baiyoke, who is also vice chairwoman of the Baiyoke Hotel Group which runs seven hotels in Thailand.

Other countries in the Middle East region BYK Intertrade wants to expand to are Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, and even northern Iraq.

“We don’t want to put our own money into new projects, but we happily assist partners who are investing to build up what they want to have,” says Baiyoke. This would also include consulting and matchmaking for Middle East investors who want to come to Thailand to start a business.

One more project which is currently in the launch stage is setting up a waste recycling company in Dubai, a joint cooperation between BYK and Thai company Wongpanit. Besides recycling, BYK is also looking to build a $300 million power plant that is designed to produce energy from waste together with a specialized Thai company.

In the oil and gas business, BK is planning to start up oil field services in the Middle East, and is also active as a broker for liquid natural gas (LNG). The company was involved in Thailand’s energy major PPT’s planned deal to purchase one million tons of LNG per year from Qatar, which now is apparently in the stage of re-negotiation.

Asked about special business etiquette that has to be regarded when doing business with the Middle East, Baiyoke says that “Thais are very self-confident people, and our business partners respect us in the Middle East. Thailand is a very strong brand name in this region.”

She also emphasizes that the investment climate in Thailand is still better than in neighboring countries such as Myanmar and Vietnam, mainly due to better labor skills of Thais. However, she does not agree to the Thai government’s plans to raise the minimum wage to 300 baht per day in 2012.

“This is not the right way. There should be more focus on educating people better and making Thais a qualified workforce.”

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Bangkok-based BYK Intertrade is a highly diversified company that has significant ties to the Middle East. Inside Investor spoke to Panpilai Baiyoke, the firm’s president, about her experiences with doing business with the GCC and where she sees mutual opportunities for investors.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Bangkok-based BYK Intertrade is a highly diversified company that has significant ties to the Middle East. Inside Investor spoke to Panpilai Baiyoke, the firm’s president, about her experiences with doing business with the GCC and where she sees mutual opportunities for investors.

Interviewee: Panpilai Baiyoke, President BYK Intertrade

BYK Intertrade, a company that is engaged in a broad range of business and trade ventures, is one of the few Thai enterprises that have a track record of doing business with Middle East countries.

The company’s president, Panpilai Baiyoke, is a seasoned businesswoman in constant search for new opportunities in the Middle East region and beyond, namely Africa. Business relations are set up by networking and matchmaking, says Baiyoke, who is also the honorary-general consul of the Kingdom of Swaziland in Thailand. Her Thai family is well connected and has set itself a landmark in the 1990s by building Thailand’s tallest tower, the 84-floor Baiyoke Tower II, in Bangkok.

BYK Intertrade is covering many sectors of trade, be it food, garments, building material, oil and gas equipment, plants and agricultural goods, machinery equipment, and even flowers (orchids). On the service side, the company offers landscaping, hotel and spa consultancy, master plans for operations and construction, gas and petroleum plant design and installation, building maintenance, hotel and hospital laundry services, energy savings services and recycling management.

Baiyoke was, for example, involved in design work for the Asian Games in Qatar, and is currently working on starting up a company in Dubai together with Egyptian partners.

“I have a lot of contacts in the area,” Baiyoke says. Other sectors she wants to engage in are trading, landscaping, recycling and the food industry.

“We want to export Thai plants into the region and do landscaping design,” Baiyoke says. And in the food sector, she wants to focus on rice and sugar export to the Middle East and on halal food.

“I see a great potential for Middle East investors to produce halal food in Thailand,” she says. Certain Thai companies have already jumped on the bandwagon of halal food producing, such as Pacific Fish Processing (PFP), Baiyoke mentions. Her hotel chain in Bangkok, Baiyoke Hotel Group, had the first halal kitchen in Bangkok and is still one of the few locations were halal food is available in a hotel restaurant in Thailand.
She also reckons that jewelry trade with the Middle East could be a promising business segment. “If somebody wants us to do this, we can do it.”

Organic food trade with GCC countries is also an expanding sector, she adds, and is a field where BYK Intertrade has a lot of expertise through a group of organic producers in Thailand working together.
Other promising ventures comprise the hospitality industry, Baiyoke says, which includes operating hotels and spas.

“We have possible partners in Qatar, and one already requested us to manage a hotel for them” says Baiyoke, who is also vice chairwoman of the Baiyoke Hotel Group which runs seven hotels in Thailand.

Other countries in the Middle East region BYK Intertrade wants to expand to are Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, and even northern Iraq.

“We don’t want to put our own money into new projects, but we happily assist partners who are investing to build up what they want to have,” says Baiyoke. This would also include consulting and matchmaking for Middle East investors who want to come to Thailand to start a business.

One more project which is currently in the launch stage is setting up a waste recycling company in Dubai, a joint cooperation between BYK and Thai company Wongpanit. Besides recycling, BYK is also looking to build a $300 million power plant that is designed to produce energy from waste together with a specialized Thai company.

In the oil and gas business, BK is planning to start up oil field services in the Middle East, and is also active as a broker for liquid natural gas (LNG). The company was involved in Thailand’s energy major PPT’s planned deal to purchase one million tons of LNG per year from Qatar, which now is apparently in the stage of re-negotiation.

Asked about special business etiquette that has to be regarded when doing business with the Middle East, Baiyoke says that “Thais are very self-confident people, and our business partners respect us in the Middle East. Thailand is a very strong brand name in this region.”

She also emphasizes that the investment climate in Thailand is still better than in neighboring countries such as Myanmar and Vietnam, mainly due to better labor skills of Thais. However, she does not agree to the Thai government’s plans to raise the minimum wage to 300 baht per day in 2012.

“This is not the right way. There should be more focus on educating people better and making Thais a qualified workforce.”

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