China's Haier Group plans to invest U.S. $9 million in its Thailand operations this year to take advantage of a South-East Asian free trade agreement, according to media reports.
Haier Electrical Appliances (Thailand) managing director Wu Yong said $3 million would be invested in increasing the production capacity at its plants making refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, and air conditioners. Another $6 million is to go toward installing new moulds for new product lines, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported.
The expansion aims to take advantage of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect January 1, lowering import tariffs to zero to 5% on all intra-regional trade, Wu said.
"We expect to increase our export sales from 20% of total sales to 40% in the next 3 years, and sales in Thailand will grow by 40 to 50% this year," Wu said.
Haier entered Thailand in 2007 when the Quingdao, China-based electrical appliance maker purchased the Thai refrigerator plant of Japan's Sanyo Electric Co.
"There are few Chinese electrical appliance brands in the Thai market," Wu said. "However, the free trade agreement between ASEAN and China will allow more Chinese brands to enter Thailand and will encourage Thai consumers to recognize Chinese brands."
ASEAN has not only implemented the trade agreement among its 10 members, but it also has entered free trade agreements with a number of countries, including China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea.
ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Source: Bangkok German Press Agency (dpa)
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