US-ASEAN Business Council Brings Record Number of U.S. Companies to Engage with the New Government of Thailand on Key Policy Priorities and Goals for 2019 ASEAN Chairmanship

(Bangkok) -- From August 13-16, the US-ASEAN Business Council led a delegation of 46 leading American companies on the Council's annual Thailand Business Mission. Nearly 100 senior executives from a variety of industries met with recently re-elected Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, as well as newly appointed Cabinet members, senior Government officials, and key stakeholders in Thailand.

This mission was the Council’s largest single delegation to any ASEAN country in its 35-year history and served as companies’ first critical opportunity to engage with the new coalition Government following Thailand’s first general election in eight years.

The delegation was co-led by Jeff Lehrmann, Managing Director of Chevron Asia South and the Chair of the Council’s Thailand Committee; Alexander C. Feldman, President & CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council; and Marc Mealy, the Council’s Senior Vice President for Policy.

“US business is investing in Thailand’s people and the nation’s future. This Business Mission sought to understand how US business can better collaborate and partner in support of Thailand’s drive for economic competitiveness and people development. In an ever changing global economy, the proven capabilities of US companies in advanced technology, innovation and responsible business practices are well placed to support these goals across the key sectors of the economy. We look forward to continue working as a valued, long term partner to Thailand”, said Jeff Lehrmann, Chair of the Council’s Thailand Committee and Managing Director, Chevron Asia South Limited.”

“Our Business Mission comes at a critical time for the U.S. private sector as it appears the U.S. China trade dispute will continue through the near future,” said Alexander Feldman. “Following Thailand’s general election, the new coalition Government has set out to implement a comprehensive policy agenda, including many major economic reforms. We heard from multiple cabinet members about the importance the Government places on improving the ease of doing business in the Kingdom.  The US-ABC and our members looks to support the Government in achieving its economic policy priorities, especially to promote economic growth and innovation in Thailand and in ASEAN.”

The delegation leveraged this opportunity to meet the Government’s new Ministers, only one month after they were officially appointed, and position the U.S. private sector as a valuable partner and resource for each Ministry. The delegation discussed ways to further bolster Thailand’s infrastructure development agenda and promote the growth of key industries, particularly agriculture, healthcare, energy, and tourism. Delegates also emphasized the importance of innovation-enabling policies and regulations to advance Thailand’s digital economy. 

“The strength of this mission also reaffirmed the private sector’s ongoing support for Thailand’s priorities as ASEAN Chair to promote smart cities across the region and advance ASEAN’s sustainability initiatives across a number of areas,” said Marc Mealy. “Given the current instability in global trade, the mission also allowed companies to signal their support for Thailand’s trade policy efforts to successfully conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations in 2019.  With the success of the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok in June, and the upcoming ASEAN Summit and 2nd Indo-Pacific Business Forum in November, the private sector is enthusiastic to serve as a resource for Thailand during the coming months of its Chairmanship.”

During the mission, the Council delegation engaged with key Government officials, most notably Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on August 15. Other officials that the delegation met with included:

  • H.E. Somkid Jatusripitak, Deputy Prime Minister in Charge of Economy
  • H.E. Jurin Laksanawisit, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce
  • H.E. Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health
  • H.E. Chalermchai Sri-on, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives
  • H.E. Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Minister of Digital Economy and Society,
  • H.E. Sontirat Sontijirawong, Minister of Energy
  • H.E. Uttama Savanayana, Minister of Finance
  • H.E. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • H.E. Suvit Maesincee, Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation
  • H.E. Suriya Juangroongruangkit, Minister of Industry
  • H.E. Pipat Ratchakitprakan, Minister of Tourism and Sports
  • ​​​H.E. Veerathai ​Santiprabhob, ​Governor of the Bank of Thailand
  • Chargé d’Affaires Peter Haymond, U.S. Embassy Bangkok
  • H.E. Mananya Thaiset, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
  • Mr. Ronadol Numnonda, Deputy Governor, Financial Institutions Stability, Bank of Thailand
  • Associate Professor Soranit Siltharm, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation

 
The Council delegation began the Mission with a briefing from senior officials at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, including Acting Deputy Chief of Mission and Political Counselor Henry Rector and Acting Director for the U.S. Trade and Development Agency Tom Hardy, and finished the Mission with a visit to the Eastern Economic Corridor for Innovation (EECi), a key site of economic growth and infrastructure development in Thailand.

Companies participating in the Thailand Business Mission included 3M, Agoda, AIG, Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, BowerGroupAsia, Cargill, Chevron, Cigna, Cisco, Citi, ConocoPhillips, Diageo, Dow, Expedia, ExxonMobil, FedEx, Ford, Harley-Davidson, Herbalife Nutrition, HP Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries, Marriott International, MasterCard, McLarty Associates, MSD, Microsoft, Monsanto, Netflix, Oracle, PayPal, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Philip Morris, Procter & Gamble, Qualcomm, Rockwell Automation, Salesforce, Seagate, Stripe, TE Connectivity, Tyson, Visa, and VMware.

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For 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.