Our Thai Prime Minister's official visits to Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda in August 2013 have made Africa a more interesting destination for investors, as these trips underline the government's determination toward improving relations between Thailand and Africa.
Africa may seem remote for Thai investors, but the continent is full of factors that are ideal for business, including high economic growth rates, abundant natural resources, trade benefits granted by leading industrial economies and proliferation of the middle class, which means higher purchasing power, as well as widely-open policy of investment promotion.
Given its rich resources and favorable atmosphere for investment, Africa has seen rapid increases in FDI. It is noteworthy that Asian investors now have a key role in investment there. In 2011, Malaysia had the third largest investment value in Africa after France and the US, and was thus ranked first among Asians, making its investments higher than those of China and India.
Total trade between Thailand and Africa has risen continuously. Our exports to the continent reached THB255.53 billion in 2012; this was an increase of THB21.85 billion over 2011, equivalent to a 9.35 percent-jump. KResearch projects that total exports from Thailand to Africa in 2013 will grow 6.7 percent YoY, totaling THB272.58 billion (roughly 4 percent of our worldwide exports). This forecast indicates a higher growth rate than that of other regions.
The African market has ample opportunities for Thai investors in trade and investment, thanks to the continent's strengths that make it easier to expand there than many other places and allows access to raw materials that are a part of their natural resources. Africa also has a competitive edge over other regions because of their large workforce and cheap wages, as well as the trade privileges offered by leading economies. These pluses offer Thai investors opportunities to establish their production base there for light industries that are labor-intensive in nature.