ASEM-IV: Strengthening Thai-Danish business relations

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen agreed at a bilateral meeting during the ASEM-IV in Copenhagen in September to encourage a further expansion of the commercial relations between Denmark and Thailand, according to Denmark’s Ambassador to Thailand, Mr. Ulrik Helweg-Larsen, who participated in the meeting.

“The meeting was the first personal meeting between the two Prime Ministers,” Mr. Helweg-Larsen says.

“The atmosphere was very positive and they discussed in particular how to promote partnerships between Danish and Thai Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SME’s). It was agreed that both parties should map out various possibilities for strengthening the cooperation,” the Ambassador says.

“As a consequence, we will hopefully see a number of new investment projects with the participation of the Industrialization Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) as a shareholder or lender in companies within production as well as service,” the Ambassador adds.

The cooperation on environmental issues was also touched upon and the Thai Prime Minister expressed his sincere appreciation of the Danish support. The special component called Partnership Facility was mentioned in particular as a model for cooperation also in other sectors than the environmental sector. Prime Minister Thaksin mentioned specifically technology transfer within agriculture and food processing as areas of interest for Thailand.

“If a Thai SME is interested in cooperating with a Danish company within the framework of the Partnership Facility or otherwise they are welcome to contact our Embassy here in Bangkok and we will then try to find a suitable Danish business partner,” the Ambassador adds.

Regarding the international drug suppression efforts, Prime Minister Thaksin briefed on the Thai approach to offer better cash crops for the hill tribes than opium – thereby letting the market forces eliminate the problem. The Prime Minister also mentioned the funds spend on drug suppression across the border into Burma, specifically a 20 Mill. Baht project on the Burmese side of the border.

By the end of the meeting, Danish Prime Minster Anders Fogh Rasmussen was invited by Prime Minister Thaksin to visit Thailand at a time suitable for both parties.

The ASEM IV was in many ways more concrete than previous meetings – including on political issues, notes the Ambassador.
“There was much more substance in the talks – for instance regarding the international fight against terrorism, narcotics and the Korean peninsular,” Ambassador Helweg-Larsen says.
“Two specific declarations were signed, one which set up the framework for future cooperation between the EU and ASEAN on the fight against terrorism and another declaration regarding the Korean Peninsular. The delegates also agreed to a Chairman’s statement which was subsequently issued.”
During the ASEM, also retreat sessions between the Heads of States took place where they – without any prior prepared papers – exchanged views on topics of mutual interest.
“One of the subjects was the cultural and social issues related to terrorism. Why do we have this problem? What are the underlying tensions in terms of poverty, ethnic differences, cultural differences? In these discussions, Prime Minister Thaksin was a very active participant in these discussions,” the Ambassador says.
Concurrent to the ASEM, an Economic Ministers’ Meeting was held in which Dr. Adisai Bodharamix, Minister of Commerce, represented Thailand. The Euro currency as a potential alternative reserve currency for the Asian countries along side the US dollar and the issuing of Euro bonds were among the topics discussed.
The ASEM meeting followed up on this discussion and it was decided to establish a task force to look into these matters as well as how to coordinate the trade political cooperation up to the next major WTO meeting.

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