Success Amidst Difficult Times
APCA ’98 took place, as Asia lies deep in crisis, in Bangkok between 28 to 30 October 1998 at the Amari Atrium Hotel. Crisis notwithstanding, APCA ’98 repeated the successes of its past conference with a smaller attendance of 101participants. Many participants gave high marks for the amount and quality of the information exchanged and the contacts made or renewed in APCA ’98 – perhaps a grim reflection of the increased relevance of countertrade to the hard times in Asia.
His Excellencies, the Honourable Prime Minister of Thailand, Khun Chuan Leekpai, the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Dr. Supachai Panitchapakdi, the Honourable Finance Minister, Khun Tarrin Nimmanhaeminda and the Honourable Minister in charge of Investment in the Prime Minister’s Office Khun Abhisit Vejjajiva were all unable to attend as scheduled because of unexpectedly important matters arising. Their speeches were however ably delivered on their behalves by very senior Thai speakers.
Our thanks to the Ministry of Commerce, the EXIM Bank for endorsing and supporting APCA ’98, the Department of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Commerce for their help; Thai Airways for being the Official Airline; The Nation for being the Official Local Media and Khun Warnwara Intaraparasit, Minister (Counsellor) of the Royal Thai Embassy in Singapore for her assistance and advice.
The success of APCA ’98 is due in no small ways to the leadership of Khun Kirit Shah, Chairman of the G Premjee Group of Companies and the APCA ’98 Conference Organising Committee and generosity as a sponsor for both the cocktail and dinner for APCA ’98. Amari Atrium Hotel, the venue for APCA ’98, spared no efforts to please. Exceptional praises were given by all the participants for the cuisine served in Amari Atrium throughout the conference and for being the most cost competitive venue that APCA had experienced. CDM’s (the conference organiser) professional and meticulous administration contributed to the completion of yet another event, which APCA is proud to have brought to the Kingdom of Thailand. This is a review of APCA ’98.
APCA ’98 kicked off with pomp and festivity. Drummers and dancers led a procession headed by our Guest of Honour, His Excellency Khun Paitoon Kaewthong the Deputy Minister of Commerce, wound through the reception area, pausing and tempting the guests to join in the dance and celebrations before leading everyone into the ballroom. The drummers and dancers thrilled the cocktail guests with a short presentation on stage before His Excellency delivered the key-note address of His Excellency Khun Chuan Leekpai after the welcome and opening addresses of Khun Kirit Shah and Dr. Christoph Kamm respectively. The cocktail which followed in true Thai style, with small scattered stalls dressed in traditional style serving internationally renown Thai cuisine, delighted everyone and provided the perfect rendezvous complete with good food and wine – a prelude for serious businesses to follow over the next two days.
The theme for APCA ’98 was “Unconventional means of Financing and Facilitating Trade and Investment in Thailand” and the 2 full day meetings justified and demonstrated the urgency of this theme to the present times.
The first quarter session, which occupied the morning of 29 October 1998, focused on Thailand. His Excellency, the deputy Minister of Commerce Khun Pravich Rattanaphan, the Deputy Minister of Commerce delivered the address of His Excellency Dr. Supachai Panitchapakdi, the Minister of Commerce, whilst Khun Staporn Kavitanon, the Secretary General, Board of Investment delivered the address on behalf of His Excellency the Honourable Minister in charge of Investment in the Prime Minister’s Office Khun Abhisit Vejjajiva. His Excellency Khun Pravich gave Thailand’s standpoint on countertrade stressing issues covered by the Thai Committee on Countertrade. The next four speakers were Khun Staporn Kavitanon, Secretary General, Board of Investment, Khun Boontipa Simaskul, Inspector General, Ministry of Commerce, Khun Chanchai Musignnisarkon, Deputy Director General, The Fiscal Policy Office, Ministry of Finance and Khun SompornChitphentom, First Vice President, Business Development Department, EXIM Bank. They spoke on the topics “Thailand’s Investment Policies with regard to trading: Investment Possibilities in Thailand”, “The Ministry of Commerce: Facilitator of Trade with Thailand”, “An Overview of the Economic Policies to Facilitate Trade and Investments in Thailand”, “EXIM Bank: An introduction – its role in Trade Financing and Countertrade.”, respectively.
The second and third quarters were the countries update sessions. Many agreed that these two sessions of open discussions and sharing experiences were the most important and beneficial sessions in APCA ’98.
The final quarter saw the international speakers, Dr. Pompiliu Verzariu, United States of Department of Commerce, Dr.Christian Sperk of Centrobank and Mr. Johan van Dyk of ARMSCOR speaking. They spoke on “The Role of Countertrade and Offset in Project Finance”, “Countertrade In Thailand – Experiences of Trade and Industry with the New Regulations”, and “The New Offset Regulations in South Africa”, respectively.
Pleasures Not Forgotten
APCA ’98 had its share of pleasures. Golfers took to the green at the Rose Garden Golf course, whilst non-golfers visited the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha Temple on the first day. Spouses were completely occupied during the next two days of plenary meetings, with tours to the Prasat Museum and a boat ride to the market and village of Nonthaburi. The pre and post conference tours to Phuket got delegates enjoying so much that they were craving for more and vowing to return. Throughout their stay, the “Amazing Thailand” festivals fulfilled the shopping needs of the delegates and their spouses.
Italian Style Farewell
A poolside cocktail and feast at the Italian restaurant beside it, complete with laughter, good cheers and the quiet and sobering moments reminiscing over the challenges ahead of us all, marked the end of yet another memorable and profitable event for APCA. We look forward to meeting again in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for APCA ’99.