Top Thai executives confident in U.S. economy

Leading Thai business executives expressed confidence in the American economy in a virtual roundtable late last month, saying that their investments in the United States have been fruitful and believe political turmoil will abate.

The Thai executives were participating in an online seminar hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Michael George DeSombre entitled ‘SelectUSA: Helping Thai Companies Go Global.’ Its purpose was to give Thai companies information on expanding their businesses to the U.S.

Boonchai Opas-iam-likit of Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, the Kingdom’s largest agro-industrial conglomerate, said that he was optimistic about prospects in America. CP sees potential to expand its shrimp market in the U.S.

The Group has been making other investments in the U.S. In 2016, the firm bought Bellisio Foods, maker of “Chili’s At Home” and “Boston Market” frozen meals, for about $1.1 billion. CP also recently began investing in a shrimp farm in Florida.

Other Thai executives who spoke on the panel included Aloke Lohia, CEO of Indorama Ventures (petrochemicals); Chanin Vongkusolkit, Chairman of Banpu (energy); Chartsiri Sophonpanich, President of Bangkok Bank (finance); and Thirapong Chansiri, President and CEO, Thai Union Group (seafood).

Thirapong of Thai Union, which owns brands such as “Chicken of the Sea” tuna, said that his company was small when he made his first investment in America. He said the U.S. had a cost advantage in food manufacturing and many strong local brands.

Chanin of energy firm Banpu said his company started a small-scale energy business in the U.S. before scaling it up. While the company is invested in fossil fuel production in Pennsylvania Texas, he said the industry remained promising because it would take time before renewable energy prevails.

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