Göran Persson promotes JAS Gripen aircraft in Thai talks

Sweden is making a coordinated marketing campaign for the jet fighter aircraft system JAS Gripen during Prime Minister Göran Persson´s official visit in Thailand.
     “Saab has to do the selling but I can share my experiences as a buyer of the aircraft with Thailand,” says Göran Persson right after a well visited luncheon hosted by the Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce at the Montien Hotel Suriwong in Bangkok.
     “It is far too early to talk about any deals yet. We are here to get an understanding of Thailand’s needs and see for ourselves. I feel we have strong support and backing from the Swedish Prime Minister in our endeavor,” says Mr Åke Svensson, CEO Saab AB, the Swedish defense company that manufactures JAS Gripen.
     Saab is currently talking to air forces in some 20 countries about the JAS Gripen system. The Royal Thai Air Force will phase out a large number of old F5 fighters in the next years.
     Saab is one of several competitors seeing an opportunity when the next generation Thai fighter jets will be selected.
     In his keynote speech at the Montien, Prime Minister Göran Persson touched upon a broad number of issues that affect Thai Swedish relations.
     “Import and export are equally important,” stressed Göran Persson encouraging Thai exporters and investors to try the open Swedish market.
     He did also outline a future need of foreign labour to Sweden. An opening for Thais?
     “Yes, Thailand has a capable work force. In five – ten years time we will see the need for foreign labour similar to what Sweden experienced in the 1960´s and 1970´s when many foreigners were hired by Swedish companies and migrated to our country.”
     The first round of talks with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, held Thursday morning, were “open and productive”, says Göran Persson. Bilaterally, there are no big differences to argue about, but regionally there is disagreement on how Burma shall be treated.
     EU, including Sweden, does not want to sit down at the same table as Burma in the upcoming Asem (The Asia-Europe Meeting) talks in Vietnam this October.
     The Asian side has so far rejected the European standpoint.
     “We really have to solve this issue,” says Göran Persson “If not there is a risk that October’s Asem meeting won’t take place.”
     Is that a threat? asked a Thai reporter.
     “Not at all. This is a very well known European opinion.”
     Finally, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has accepted an invitation to visit Sweden this year. Probably toward the end of 2004.

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