CNN interview with Jackie Chang, Delta Thailand President
Bangkok, Thailand, July 22, 2020–This year’s COVID-19 pandemic tested Thailand’s resilience and sustainability for investment and business. In June, PEMADU Associates, the Ministry of Science and Innovation of Malaysia and the Sunway Group, ranked Thailand second-best among 184 countries in successful recovery from COVID-19 worldwide and the best country in Asia.
“We have not had to stop production for a single day during the pandemic,” Mr. Jackie Chang, President of Delta Electronics Thailand, said. “That means that the critical requirements of our customers are still being met by us, which is essential to our business success,” Mr. Chang told CNN as he explained why Delta chooses Thailand as our base of operations for Southeast Asia.
Here are in-depth insights from Mr. Chang’s exclusive CNN interview, made in partnership with the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI), about investing in Thailand, the nation’s COVID-19 response and opportunities for businesses in the new normal.
Can you outline some key advantages of Thailand as a place to do business?
What I like about Thailand is that it’s a country that welcomes all nationalities and cultures. The excellent healthcare system here ensures the well-being of our workforce, who can access globally recognized hospitals, medical universities and institutions. It’s also a great gateway to Southeast Asia with great logistics connections linking it with the surrounding countries. The BOI has an excellent plan to attract FDI and now our location in Samutprakan is a large industrial park with a lot more foreign investment than when we first began over 30 years ago.
Of course, the BOI’s incentives support our company’s long term sustainable development not only for production but also for talent cultivation for engineering, software and solutions. Delta Thailand has been transforming ourselves from purely manufacturing operations by setting up our own R&D Center of Excellence and now we’re even introducing Industry 4.0 solutions with offerings in automation for industrial and building management applications. Our smart city infrastructure solutions are key to Thailand’s growth in areas such as data center, 5G, EV, energy management and energy storage solutions.
In fact, a friend once told me that many successful foreigners in Thailand often keep a low profile when they meet other visitors. When I asked him why, he laughed and said: “It’s because we don’t want to let anyone else know how many amazing opportunities Thailand has, so we can enjoy this country ourselves.”
Why did Delta Electronics choose Thailand as the regional business head office and manufacturing center for its businesses in India and Southeast Asia?
There’s no doubt that the BOI played a critical role in our consideration to come and even pursue further development in Thailand. For decades, we’ve enjoyed a strong relationship with the BOI and we engage in fruitful discussions about future development in Thailand that provides a platform for us to share our suggestions and opinions. We feel they (the BOI) don’t just bring us in and then ignore us, but they care about our long-term sustainability and success.
Thailand is a very international location. This is a very important factor for foreign investors to consider. We need a stable investment environment to make sure our investment will gain returns for our shareholders and customers. And as a foreigner, you feel safe and comfortable when living in Thailand. I personally like Thailand very much.
Thailand has different sets of plans in place to boost specific aspects of development, such as the Thailand 4.0 and Smart City projects. This shows a clear direction for a company like Delta to focus on in the domestic market and role we can play in the national growth story.
In fact, Delta is co-working with the BOI, Ministry of Industry and top Thai universities to support economic and industry development with initiatives like the Delta Angel Fund for Startups and Delta Automation Academy which enhances talent development for Industry 4.0. We see great potential and commitment from our partners and we’ll continue to expand our activity scope.
Which factors give you confidence that Thailand will continue to excel as a business hub in ASEAN?
Thailand, as our business hub in ASEAN, has several unshakable factors from my point of view. We have already covered quite a few but the most important thing in my view is it’s not just all talk and no action – things are actually happening in Thailand.
This is why we have collaborated with the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science and the BOI to cultivate industrial automation talent. Delta also participates and observes the country’s smart city projects. I think these actions and activities all give us strong confidence in Thailand’s current development progress and future roadmap.
What’s your overall take on how Thailand has managed its COVID-19 situation up until now?
Among Southeast Asian nations, Thailand is quite well prepared for pandemics because they invested in building hospitals and training medical personnel at a high level. The government takes a lot of action, such as restricting certain businesses and enforcing a night curfew, which we see has been effective to stop the spread of COVID-19.
We’re very thankful for all the support for industry and factories that produce essential products to continue operations. We also got clear guidance and instructions from the Department of Public Health on how to prevent COVID-19 and what to do in the case of infections. And everyone is working together to find solutions together. For example, the BOI requested our help with DC blowers which was used to develop Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR) and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the medical personnel treating COVID-19 patients.
Generally, everyone in Thai society is helping others and cooperating with social distancing to keep everyone safe. I think that the good support from the government can help investors in Thailand to keep operating and also look for “new norm” business opportunities like data center or 5G development.
What kind of assurance does the country’s proactive approach offer to businesses like yours?
From our experience over the years, I feel Thailand is one of the best places to build a sustainable business with long-term growth to benefit our customers and stakeholders. Delta is always changing and growing to meet the needs of our customers and society and we see that Thai society is changing fast so we’re confident we can help.
I think that Thailand can lead the region when it comes to adopting new technology that other advanced economies are using to address megatrends like the aging population and AI advancement. As a welcoming culture, Thailand is maintaining stable relations with major trading partners like the USA, China, the EU and APAC as well as its ASEAN partners.
With so many long-term projects already in place, we’re sure that we have plenty of work for us in the future. I hope to continue working closely with the BOI and our local partners as well as more international investors to make a more healthy and prosperous society in Thailand.