Major and small- and medium-sized enterprises from Thailand have expanded operations in Vietnam in recent years, helping create an inflow of Thai investments, experts said at a business forum in Ho Chi Minh City on July 8.

Vietnam and Thailand are close partners in all fields and especially in education and tourism. The AEAN Economic Community (AEC), scheduled to be formed in late 2015, will be a platform for the two countries to further share experience and resources, expand markets, and tap into the bloc’s potential, said Malinee Harnboonsong – Director of the Commercial Office at the Thai Consulate General in HCM City.

According to Tharabodee Serng-Adichaiwit, General Manager of the Bangkok Bank’s HCM City branch, Vietnam’s political stability, growing economy and improving legal system create a favourable investment and business climate for domestic and foreign firms. The country is also a large market in ASEAN with a population of over 90 million, increasingly skilled workforce, low production costs and clear regulations on personal and enterprise taxes.

He suggested Thai companies boost their activities through forming joint ventures and building factories in industrial parks.

The forum, held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Trade Promotion Agency and the Thai Commercial Office, revealed that Thailand is currently the biggest Southeast Asian trade partner of Vietnam with trade reaching 10.6 billion USD in 2014 and approximately 4.4 billion USD in the first five months of this year. They aim to reach 15 billion USD in trade revenue by 2020.

Nguyen The Hung, Deputy Director of the HCM City branch of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Vietnam still recorded a trade deficit with Thailand and is striving to ensure balance.

Since the AEC will bring about dramatic shifts in trade, services and capital flows, Vietnamese and Thai businesses need to gear up to optimise opportunities, ultimately bolstering bilateral commerce, he noted.

Among ASEAN business circles, Thai enterprises are considered dynamic and active in preparing for AEC integration, Hung said, asking Vietnamese firms to join trade and investment promotion delegations to promote their capacity of entering Thai markets and those in ASEAN in general.-VNA