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Chinese setting up shop in Chiang Mai

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by Jintana Panyaarvudh

The charm and beauty of Chiang Mai, the capital of northern Thailand, has made the province not only a must-see destination but also a golden nest for foreign investors – especially Chinese seeking business opportunities. Take Chinese entrepreneurs like Cherry and Zong Dan, for example. Having fallen for Chiang Mai’s charms, they opted to start their first overseas business in the province.

Chinese setting up shop in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

Cherry, a 35 year old entrepreneur from Chengdu, decided to invest in a guesthouse in Chiang Mai’s Muang district a few months ago after finding her previous job as a writer on property issues was no longer satisfying.

She chose Chiang Mai after the city left a deep impression on her when she first visited five years ago.

“Chiang Mai is not far from my hometown, has nice weather, and the people are warm and friendly,” Cherry said.She rented an eight-room guesthouse on Sirimangkalajarn Road, and partnered with the owner of the building, since Thai laws do not allow her to fully own a business here.

Cherry is currently staying in Thailand on a 60 day tourist visa while she applies for a work permit. It’s a complicated process and expensive, she admits; she even had to return briefly to China to retrieve some required documents.

As a Chinese national, Cherry knows her compatriots prefer to stay in a hotel where staff speak their language, and so she hired Thai staff who can speak some Mandarin. Her guesthouse boasts many return customers. To boost her sales, she turned to the largest online travel agency in China, Ctrip. Cherry’s initial investment was around 1.5 million baht and she expects to make it back in the next two years despite strong competition from an abundance of tourist accommodation in Chiang Mai these days.

Asked her advice for other Chinese entrepreneurs considering investing in Thailand, Cherry says people could invest in property to live in or rent out – but she wouldn’t advise anyone to run a guesthouse as she does. Cherry thinks the number of Chinese tourists coming to Thailand will continue to rise because prices are low and a high-speed train will soon be connecting the two countries.

Asked about anti-Chinese investment sentiment in Thailand, Cherry said, “I hired four Thai staff. They now have jobs and can help to grow the Thai economy.”

Chinese setting up shop in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

Zong Dan moved from Saraburi, where she was a Chinese volunteer teacher two years ago, to Chiang Mai because she likes the city. She then became the co-owner of the famous Chinese food shop Miss Liangpi in a soi on Nimmanhaemin Road after seeing a business opportunity there.

At the time, there were only a couple of Chinese food shops in the city.With the aim of serving Chinese food to their tourist compatriots, Zong and her husband, whose hometown is in Xi’an in Shaanxi province, decided to open a small shop to sell the signature dish of Xi’an – Liang pi, or cold-skin noodles.

Like Cherry, Zong at first found it difficult to set up the business, including identifying the best location for her shop and then registering her business, which took around three months. Zong, who runs the shop with a Thai partner, now has a work permit in hand.

Her shop was ranked one of the most popular in 2017 by a Chinese review website and now boasts Chinese, Western and Thai customers. Sales this year, however, have not been as good as last year, Zong says, but the business still makes a healthy profit. Their plan is to run the shop for four or five years and then take stock before deciding their next move.

Last year, Chinese topped the list of foreign tourists to Thailand, reaching almost 9.8 million visitors and spending around 524.4 billion baht. Authorities expected the number of arrivals this year to reach 12 million. Chinese were also the only nationality to increase their numbers in Chiang Mai from 2014 to 2016 – with an almost 43 per cent increase – while other nationalities decreased, according to the Intelligence Centre of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

“When the market grows, demand grows, as does investment. Chinese people feel happier talking with Chinese speakers,” a TAT official who asked not to be named said

.Chinese people are investing in every country in the world, noted Yos Santasombat, a professor of Anthropology at Chiang Mai University. China’s official “going out” policy is spurring investment, and not just in Thailand, he said.Yos Santasombat.

“They are coming to explore the possibility of investment. If there is a better situation or a better deal or a better chance elsewhere they will go there,” said the professor, who has conducted several studies into Chinese capitalism and the impact of China in the Mekong region.

Chinese setting up shop in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

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Business

Thailand’s media spend shrinks as brands shy away from ‘bad’ news

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Thailand’s media spend shrinks as brands shy away from ‘bad’ news | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand Business News

Young protesters, who use social media and messaging intuitively vs Thai officials and police who try and track those messages to keep up with the plans of the protest movement. Although Thai police have water cannons and brute force, the Thai youth at the core of the current protest movement also have a valuable weapon. And it’s being used more than ever at the moment. But this increased traffic is not transforming into increased media spending from Thailand’s main brands.

Social media analyts Wisesight say social media is being ‘weaponised’, not only to plan and communicate with fellow protesters, but also “spread the word” of the issues behind their campaign and share their stories with friends. Posts on social media have nearly doubled to 40 million messages a day over the past week. The daily average of posts in past months are around 20-22 million a day.

“Some 40 million messages were posted on social media in Thailand on Oct 15, mainly driven by political strife,” according to Kla Tangsuwan, CEO of Wisesight.

But the increased traffic on social media hasn’t meant that brands are increasing their spending to take advantage of the additional ‘reach’.

In fact, Wisesight say brands are pausing digital media spending after the political conflict ramped up this week. Usually digital media spend spikes in Q4 with the approaching festive season, a peak buying time for consumers. Media were hoping that sentiment would rebound as the world “pandemic” started the settle in October, but fresh political protests, and a surge in new global Covid-19 cases, have caused brands to “pause or wait and see”.

“Brands have begun to hold back on digital media spending in the fourth quarter as political messages flood online platforms, drawing attention away from commercial activity.”

According to the business director of Media Intelligence, Pawat Ruangdejworachai, businesses are pausing their media spend.

“They lack confidence and are hard to gain attraction from audiences that have more interest in political movements.”

The report also notes that Thailand’s social media landscape, and broader media landscape generally, are entering a new paradigm where usage is driven mainly by Generations Y and Z who use their media intuitively and consume it in real time, the vast majority on their smartphones.

Gen Y. Gen Y, or Millennials, were born between 1980 and 1994. They are currently between 24-39 years old.

Gen Z. Gen Z is the newest generation to be named and were born between 1996 and 2015. They are currently between 5-24 years old.

According to Media Intelligence, media spending is expected to fall 20% in Thailand to 71.2 billion baht this year. Internet channels are forecast to be the only media which will see growth this year, up 0.5% to 19.7 billion baht.

SOURCE: wisesight.com

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Business

Foreign investors and businesspeople seek clarity about the current “situation” in Thailand

The Thaiger

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Foreign investors and businesspeople seek clarity about the current “situation” in Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Are business groups still able to "meet"? - EU Business Avenues

With Thailand battling to come up with a safe and sustainable manner of re-opening its borders, and the footage of the street protests reaching out to a world audience, foreign investors are saying they need more details of what they can or cannot do in Thailand under the new State of Emergency.

The Thai Chamber of Commerce is calling for additional details and a long term “plan” about how Thailand is going to slowly re-open and how foreign businesses can continue to invest in the country under the current “restrictions”. The State of Emergency, announced hastily on Thursday morning at 4am and then endorsed by the Thai cabinet yesterday afternoon, sends mixed signals to business and the Thai Chamber of Commerce is seeking more clarification.

TCC chairman Kalin Sarasin says that foreign investors are enquiring whether they can go ahead with holding conferences and meetings in Thailand, after the decrees’ ban on gatherings of more than 5 people. People in a BTS Skytrain carriage, or even the meeting of the Thai cabinet yesterday are gatherings of more than 5 people, so the TCC want answers to what, specifically, is allowed and what is not.

The Nation reports that Chambers of commerce in Thailand’s provinces are also asking Kalin if they will be able to continue with planned activities.

“It would take a few days to judge whether emergency rule will hit foreign-investor confidence. The economy could escape damage from political turmoil if the anti-government protests end soon.”

Meanwhile, according to the Japan External Trade Organisation, Japanese “faith in Thailand remains high”, JETRO president Atsushi Taketani says that Japanese investors “were still confident in Thailand and remain committed to driving its economy regardless of current political situation”.

The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand says that Thailand’s core economic showpieces, including development of the Eastern Economic Corridor, won’t be affected by escalating political tensions.

And the deputy governor of the authority, Attapon Jirawatjanya, stated that… “ongoing anti-establishment protests would be a short-term problem”.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Economy

Bangkok office rents drop for the first time in 10 years

Caitlin Ashworth

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Bangkok office rents drop for the first time in 10 years | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Ragnar Vorel

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll on Thailand, and the region’s, economy, Bangkok office rents and occupancy rates are expected to drop after consistent growth over the past 10 years, according to Colliers International Thailand.

It will be the first contraction in that sector since 2010, according to the property consultancy’s associate director of research and communication, Phattarachai Taweewong. He adds that it is one of the “roughest years because of political unrest.” Since July, pro-democracy protesters have been calling on an end to the military-run government and a rewrite of the 2017 Constitution.

The ‘political unrest’ is not a new topic in Thailand and Bangkok life, but the affects of the Covid-19 lockdowns and border closures since April have put the Thai economy into recession and forcing smaller and larger businesses to reassess their businesses and trim their costs, including Bangkok’s high rents.

Bangkok office rents and occupancy rates grew around 3 – 5% each year from 2011 to 2019, but after this year’s 3 month lockdown and business restrictions, rents and occupancy rates have fallen, and are forecast to continue to fall. The new office demand following the lockdown was mostly relocations to buildings with lower rent option with landlords prepared to deal. Colliers predicts that trend will continue until at least the end of the year.

“Many tenants are struggling with the business downturn. Some returned rental spaces to landlords. Others asked for a decrease in rental rates to save on costs… Landlords cut rents slightly to help tenants. Some offered a lower rent to retain existing tenants.”

HERE’sa perspective of the situation back in May this year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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