Bangkok, 04 July 2024. Thailand's and Italy's economic ties have grown significantly. Their total trading volume in 2023 was 5,062.15 million US dollars, or over 190 billion baht. The Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Trade of Thailand, and the Italian Embassy in Bangkok subsequently went ahead and organized at Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy, the Italian-Thai Business Forum (ITBF) for the 9th consecutive year, with the aim of sustaining economic and trade collaboration as well as long-term investment in target industries. Furthermore, the Forum has enhanced business capacities and facilitates the interchange of information, expertise, and experiences. Business leaders from 29 companies from Thailand and Italy, comprising 16 Thai and 13 Italian companies, were present at this forum. The enterprises' main industries included automotive, banking, infrastructure and transportation, food, insurance, furniture, lifestyle, oil and gas, renewable energy, machinery, sugar, retail, rubber, petrochemicals, tourism, and so forth.

The 9th Italian-Thai Business Forum (ITBF) was part of the continuous endeavor to strengthen the two nations' more than 156-year-old international ties, particularly in the field of economic cooperation. Furthermore, in May of this year, H.E.Mr. Srettha Thavisin, Thai Prime Minister, conducted an official visit to the Republic of Italy and held discussions with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to encourage collaborative trade and investment. The talk appeared to be a success, since Mrs. Meloni plans to visit Thailand in February 2025. This year's ITBF forum in Florence was distinguished by the presence of H.E. Mr. Paolo Dionisi, Italian Ambassador to Thailand, and H.E.Mr.Puttaporn Ewtoksan, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to the Italian Republic.

Busaba Chirathivat, co-chair of the Italian-Thai Business Forum (ITBF) and advisor to Central Group, stated: “The ITBF has been conducted for the ninth year in a row to strengthen ties between Thailand and Italy. Additionally, it serves as a platform for CEOs and top executives from the private sectors of both countries to present their business's strengths and potential in order to forge stronger partnerships that would ultimately propel the target industries in a variety of areas. Italy is Thailand's 24th commercial partner and its third EU partner, therefore this forum also aims to facilitate trade and investment between the two nations to deepen collaboration in a tangible and effective way.”

Carlo Pesenti, co-chair of the Italian-Thai Business Forum and CEO of Italmobiliare, said: "It’s a pleasure and an honor to welcome the Board members at Palazzo Vecchio and in Sala degli Elementi, really at the heart of Italian Renaissance. As Italmobiliare we prioritize investments in companies with high growth potential, and a strong attitude to innovation and sustainability, aiming at a full ESG integration at all stages of investing. I do therefore regard as crucial that also in developing the relations between our Countries we have a proper understanding of the current and future development of European directives and regulations on sustainability, which will be our joint growth lever.”

Kasemsit Pathomsak, Executive Chairman of Merchant Partners Asset Management Co., Ltd., said: “Thailand's GDP in the first quarter expanded by 1.5% compared to the same period last year. It was a result of the growth of the tourism sector. Furthermore, Thailand's government is pushing the Ignite Thailand initiative to continue advancing eight priority industries to transform Thailand into a regional center, as well as accelerating discussions on the Thailand-EU Free Trade Area (FTA), which is expected to be completed by 2025. The government sector is also promoting the economy by encouraging investment through institutions such as the Office of the Board of Investment (BOI), reducing corporate income tax by 50% for 5 years, and exempting machinery import tariffs.”

Dr. Filippo Corsini, Professor of Sustainability Management at Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, said: "The business sector is critical to advancing sustainability. The European Green Deal aims to transform the EU into a modern, resource-efficient, and competitive economy by achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This ambitious plan underscores the EU's commitment to becoming the first climate-neutral continent, setting a global benchmark for sustainability”.

Thawatchai Setthachinda, Vice President of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, stated: "The Thai Chamber of Commerce has emphasized the continuation of Unioncamere: the Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Crafts, and Agriculture with the Italian Chamber of Commerce to promote SMEs business, especially in food, fashion (silk), and lifestyle (ceramics and furniture) to the international market.”

Business leaders from Thailand and Italy addressed the forum this year, providing participants with updates on strategies and policies aimed at fostering mutual trade and investment, such as:

  • Central Group : Rinascente Department Store in Florence, Italy, has been named one of the top ten greatest high-end department stores in the world for 2022, and is ranked No. 1 in online stores as well as on-demand chat & shopping platform. Currently there are nine branches in eight cities, such as Rome, Milan, Florence, Turin, etc., with more than 20 million visitors each year. There are about 3,600 brands in the stores, and it promotes Thai wisdom goods by selling bags and clothes fashioned from Thai loincloths. Central Group will unveil the new appearance of Central Chidlom Department Store in Thailand by the end of 2024, under the idea of The Store of Bangkok, with an investment expenditure of over 4 billion baht. Central Group has also promoted art, recently bringing the works of Southeast Asian artists for display at the 60th "Venice Biennale", the world's largest and oldest art event.
  • Bangkok Bank : With branches in 14 countries worldwide, it is the first Thai bank to rank among the top six banks in Southeast Asia. Bangkok Bank has also created more contemporary services in 2023–2024, such as New Regional iCash and Domestic Blockchain Payment.
  • Deesawat : This furniture manufacturer and exporter runs an eco-friendly operation and places a strong emphasis on sustainable design. It took part in the prestigious Salone del Mobile, often known as Milan Design Week, in April in Milan, which will help it with future projects.
  • Global Power Synergy : It is a subsidiary of the PTT Group that produces and distributes energy and steam. The company focuses on enhancing industrial processes to minimize emissions while also developing sustainable energy projects, including renewable energy, energy storage systems (ESS), etc.
  • Graphene Creations : Graphene is a carbon substance that is widely employed in sectors such as petrochemicals, polymers, electronics, and semiconductors. In 2022, the worldwide graphene market was valued at $864.92 million, and it is predicted to reach $3,548.96 million by 2030. The company focuses on employing technology, such as artificial intelligence, to improve product efficiency and achieve long-term sustainability.
  • SCGJWD Logistics : It is Asia's biggest provider of logistics and supply chain services. The company offers a wide range of transportation services, including rail (via high-speed train), aviation (via U-Tapao and Suvarnabhumi airports), road (via motorways), marine (via Laem Chabang Port and Map Ta Phut Port), and more. It provides services to nine ASEAN nations as well as China. It also encourages the usage of future warehouse technologies, such as ASRS, AI, and robotics.
  • Thai Summit Auto Parts Industry : It is a major automobile components company in Asia, specializing in electric vehicles. The company has production facilities throughout Thailand and internationally, including Laem Chabang, Rayong, Nakhon Nayok, Samut Prakan, China, India, Japan, the United States, and Vietnam. Most recently, in April 2024, it invested in establishing a production site in Rayong Province in collaboration with business partner, Ducati.
  • Vatana Phaisal Engineering : The company manufactures massive steel structures to export to the Middle East and the US, including petrochemical complexes, power plants, oil refineries, pressure vessels, and machinery. An example of the company's success is the establishment of Thailand's first sugar mill. It now works with well-known gas and oil companies such as Exxon, Ineos, and Thai Oil.

Nearly ten years of success The "Italian-Thai Business Forum" demonstrated the two nations' strong willingness to increase the possibilities for cooperative trade and investment cooperation. According to the Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO) of the Ministry of Commerce, Thailand and Italy had a total trade volume of 5,062.15 million US dollars in 2023, which grew by 3.32%, with exports valued at 2,098.42 million US dollars and imports valued at 2,963.73 million.

Thirteen companies from Italy have been attending the Italian-Thai Business Forum 2024 as Board Members: Italmobiliare, Intesa Sanpaolo, CIS Sicily & Unicitrus, CNH Industrial, Ferrero, Cavagna Group, Inalca Food & Beverage - Cremonini Group, IVECO, SAIPEM, Vittoria, Danieli, Pirelli, and Leonardo.

Sixteen companies from Thailand were represented as Thai committee members in the Italian-Thai Business Forum 2024: Central Group, Mitr Phol Group, Thaivivat Insurance, Vatana Phaisal Engineering, Bangkok Bank, Merchant Partners Asset Management, SCG JWD, Pin Siam, Thai Hua Rubber,Allied Metals (Thailand) Co., Ltd., Thai Union Group, Boon Rawd Brewery, Graphene Creations, Thai Summit Autoparts Industry, Global Power Synergy, and Deesawat Industries.

In addition, government representatives, including H.E. Mr. Paolo Dionisi, Ambassador of the Republic of Italy to Thailand, and Federico Cardini, President of the Thai-Italian Chamber of Commerce, attended the forum.

The Italian-Thai Business Forum reflects favorable trade and investment momentum that will help propel the two nations' economies to robust and sustained growth.

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