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Academics and Businesspeople Confident Current Economic Condition Will Help Promote Business Growth

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Bangkok--Jun 15--SET

Academics and members of Thailand's business community shared their views on the local economy in the workshop entitled "Top Executives' Networking Forum 2004". The workshop was held June 11-13 by The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) in Petchburi. In the discussion held on the topic "Current Situation and Future Outlook", participants agreed that the country's economic situation remains strong and shows additional room for growth because of its strong fundamentals.

Dr. Supavud Saicheua, Managing Director and Head of Research of Phatra Securities, said that the country's fundamentals are still strong, with savings exceeding investment by around Bt300 billion each year. He also stated that Thailand's inflation remains low and its liquidity is high. Moreover, the government has also demonstrated its financial discipline by recording a financial surplus last year.

In view of this year's world economy, growth still continues, but may become slightly slower next year. In order to improve efficiency to increase Thailand's competitiveness, more investment is needed, especially where technology plays an important role.

Businesspeople who participated in the seminar included Mr. Charoen Siriwadhanabhakdi, the President of Thai Charoen Corporation; Mr. Boonsithi Chokwatana, the President of Saha Pathanapibul Pcl.; Mr. Kanok Apiradee, Thai Airways International's President, as well as Mr. Prasert Bunsumpun, the President of PTT Plc. They all expressed the same confidence that the current economic conditions in Thailand are still viable for additional business growth, and that they all will be able to achieve more of their companies' goals.

Mr. Boonsithi Chokwatana revealed that his company, Saha Pathanapibul Pcl, is pursuing more expansion plans, with an aim to exceed its targeted growth rate of 10 per cent this year.   He said that his company continues to invest more and is careful in every move it makes.

Mr. Charoen Siriwadhanabhakdi, the President of Thai Charoen Corporation, commented that during the past three years the government has been trying to revive the local economy. The Thai economy faced several tests earlier this year, including the bird flu outbreak, the ongoing violence in Thailand's three southern border provinces, the protest against the state enterprise privatization and the effect of the unrest in the Middle-East. Nonetheless, during the past trying six months, the Thai economy survived. He believed that, without all these problems, the local economy would have seen a 9-10 per cent growth already.   Mr. Charoen also believed that the property sector is not anywhere near being a bubble. He said that good economic conditions will only increase the prices of real estate, which still have chances for more development.

Mr. Prasert Bunsumpun, as a president of PTT Plc, commented on the current oil price situation by saying that the energy prices are determined by the world's supply. He said that an increase in the oil supply is difficult now because OPEC is currently reaching its full production capacity. He also stated that if the world oil prices remain high over a long period, the economy could be hit.

Mr. Kanok Apiradee, Thai Airways International's President, addressed the increase in global competitiveness and free trade by saying that an immunization for Thai businesses is needed. This immunization can be achieved by an increase in risk management practices, the recognition of the importance of internal audits, and by taking a proactive approach. Ways of being more proactive include careful preparation to enable companies to seize any chance that comes along for achieving a greater competitive edge over their rivals, making the necessary improvements to add value to their current assets to reduce the need for more investment, and most importantly, to see the importance of their customers.

For more information, please contact the Media Relations Unit, Corporate Communication Dept.:
Ladawan Kantawong Tel: 0-2229-2036 / Kulvida Jintakawong Tel: 0-2229-2037/ Nattaporn Boonprapa Tel:     0-2229-2049   End.
-NT-

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