Message from President

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K Brenton

“ Dear Austcham Members,

Yet another year has passed faster than a speeding tuktuk.

It’s the right time to look back and reflect on notable moments, memorable people and, of course, AustCham landmarks.

First, a big thank you to outgoing Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Paul Robilliard, and his wife Hanan, for a wonderful four years that have been notable, not only for diplomacy, but also for humour and friendship. And with this, we extend a warm welcome to the new Ambassador, Mr Allan McKinnon PSM with whom we look forward to doing great things for Australia, and Aussies in Thailand.

I am pleased to report that AustCham membership continues to rise with an increase of ten per cent in 2018. At this rate we will soon hit our targeted 400 mark. We have accomplished this through an increase in membership benefits, online promotional offers, our new Members’ Calendar and Members’ News, all of which have been receiving great feedback.

Also we have increased our footprint in Thailand’s regions with briefings and factory tours on the Eastern Seaboard, and in Phuket we held five successful events during the year which has led to more members joining. This couldn’t have come about without the support of this year’s President’s Award winners Phuket-based Harry and Susan Usher from Lady Pie. Well done, and thanks to both of you.

Another big thank you goes out to the busy sub-committees who have organised more than 70 well-attended events and meetings. Informed keynote speakers have included leaders from the Board of Investment, the Thai Customs Department, the Eastern Economic Corridor office, and the Minister for Digital Economy.

A specific mention of our advocacy and education committees is called for as they have worked closely with Thai Customs, the Ministry of Education and Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) to help improve ease of, and communicate information about, business practices and education in Thailand.

By way of example, behind the scenes we saw twelve AustCham members join the Customs Alliance in 2018. Chris Larkin and the Advocacy Committee will follow up with news on this in 2019. And our education committee was specifically invited by the Thai Education Minister to join the international vocational committee to develop vocational training in Thailand.

Our hospitality committee has also done wonders: who could forget the Tourism Panel, with speakers Bill Heinecke, Founder of Minor Group, Khun Kalin Sarasin, Chairman of the Board of Trade and the Thai Chamber of Commerce, and Ambassador Paul Robilliard. A superb event that was also very well attended.

As for great events, we can all pat ourselves on the back as we Aussies know how to hold friendly, informal and productive networking events. Sundowners continues to be the premier monthly networking event in Thailand with outstanding attendance and sponsorship. Thank you and cheers to all our Corporate Sponsors and Venue Sponsors for the 2018 Sundowners – please remember to seek out their services; support those who support you.

Indeed, our major events this year have all been huge. Most recently, the Duchess Golf Tournament attracted over 100 players; the Coffee Club AFL Grand Final was said to be the best in years; and the revamped “Great Aussie Bash” was a full house!  Thank you again to the hospitality committee.

A pillar of AustCham is our commitment to Community.  In 2017 we donated Baht 450,000 in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds, with more to come.  We engaged with various organisations, in particular a school in Kanchanaburi, which we will continue to support in 2019. Thanks to everyone for making this happen and thank you to those who donated their time to our CSR activities.

There have been two rather large achievements by your chamber during 2018.  First, our leadership in the establishment of the Foreign Chamber Alliance (FCA) and, second, a similar role in the establishment of the Advance Australia Council (AAC) headed by John Hancock.  The FCA comprises the American, Australian, British and German chambers and has been established to facilitate working together on topics of common interest here. Together we hope to level the playing field in Thailand so that all businesses can compete and succeed.  The AAC is a formal agreement by key Australia-focused organisations to meet regularly and support each other’s activities.  Essentially we aim to enhance ‘Brand Australia’.

All of this year’s successes couldn’t have happened without a dedicated board of directors and our superb AustCham team under the leadership of Brendan Cunningham.  Thank you all for your efforts during the year, it’s been amazing as we have gone from strength to strength, in no small part due to your hard work and commitment.

So as we see out 2018 and look ahead to 2019 remember that the best way to get the most out of your Chamber is to be involved. So please stick up your hand, reach out, send an email or corner Brendan at Sundowners (he will thank me for that!) if you would like to join a sub-committee or share some great ideas.  You could also sponsor an event or the chamber itself just as our friends below have done.

Platinum sponsor –      Blackmores (also Australian Alumni sponsors)

Gold Sponsors –          BlueScope, Minor and Rugby School;

Silver Sponsors –        ANZ, dwp, Linfox, and Meinhardt; and

Bronze Sponsors –      ANCA Manufacturing, Mazars, Visy and WHA

I can also confirm that Blackmores and Linfox have kindly agreed to be our Platinum sponsors for 2019.  Thank you again.

In closing, let me make a pitch for our Great Australian Bash to be held on Saturday 26 January 2019. Linfox is the major sponsor and the fantastic Deni Hines is the headline act. Get your tickets now – we do anticipate that it will sell out again.

Wishing you all a very happy New Year. Sawadee pimai.”

– Brenton Mauriello, President of AustCham Thailand

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