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Montri Mahaplerkpong Reveals FTI Survey: Thai Industries Combat Rising Tide of Cheap Imports

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On a brisk morning, Montri Mahaplerkpong, the illustrious vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), unveiled insights that sent ripples across the spectrum of Thai entrepreneurship. During a February poll, which has now become a staple in the business community for its eye-opening revelations, executives voiced their unease. The concern? A burgeoning tide of cheap imports that not only threatens to outcompete but also casts shadows over consumer safety due to questionable product quality.

In this groundbreaking survey, part of the FTI CEO Poll’s monthly initiative that mines the depths of industry insights from 234 executives across 46 verticals – not to mention the invaluable input from 76 FTI provincial beacons – a narrative unfolds. Approximately 65.8% of these visionaries flagged a downturn in sales, attributing a worrying 10% to 30% dip directly to the cutthroat competition brought on by these economically priced imports.

Different sectors felt the sting to varying degrees, painting a diverse yet unified picture of distress. The electrical appliances sector bore the brunt, with 70.1% of its captains steering through stormy sales decrease. Not too far afield, the realms of food and cosmetics (55.6%), textile and fashion (49.6%), construction materials (42.7%), and machinery (30.3%) recount similar tales of woe, binding them in a shared narrative of challenge and resilience.

A staggering 81.2% of our industrious respondents sounded the alarm on the cost competitiveness – or stark lack thereof – when pitted against these value-priced imports. Yet, beyond the raw numbers and fiscal summaries, a deeper concern for the well-being of the Thai consumer emerged, with 74.4% of those surveyed placing a spotlight on the hazards posed by low-quality products dodging strict industry standards.

The clarion call for countermeasures resonated strongly, with 78.2% championing enhanced scrutiny of these imports right at customs, advocating for a gauntlet of checks to ensure compliance with the rigorous standards safeguarding industry and consumer safety alike. An insightful 66.2% proposed revisiting tax exemptions on sub-1,500 baht imports sold online, hinting at a loophole ripe for exploitation by those displaying less-than-accurate pricing to skim past taxation.

Close to half of the respondents (48.3%) threw their weight behind the introduction of anti-circumvention tactics to stymie the flood of overseas products threatening to undermine local markets.

Montri, channeling the collective wisdom of the FTI executives, underscored a beacon of hope amidst the tumult. The path to triumphing over international competition, as they see it, lies in elevating product quality to meet, or even exceed, the gold standards of Thai Industrial benchmarks and the stringent criteria set forth by the Thailand Food and Drug Administration. But it doesn’t just stop there – revitalizing brand image through enhanced after-sales services and adopting greener manufacturing practices could very well be the secret sauce to captivating hearts and minds in the marketplace.

As the leaf turns on this chapter of Thai industry, the entrepreneurs stand at a crossroad. With guidance from the FTI and the resilient spirit that defines them, the path to navigating through this era of fierce competition and ensuring consumer safety is challenging, no doubt, but fraught with opportunity for those willing to adapt, innovate, and thrive.


  1. TukTukRider March 2, 2024

    Honestly, what did we expect? Global markets have been moving this way for ages. It’s sink or swim, adapt or die. The emphasis on quality is the only way forward for Thai industries.

    • LocalPatriot March 2, 2024

      It’s easy to say ‘adapt or die’ but many local businesses don’t have the resources to compete on a global scale. It’s not just about quality; it’s about survival.

      • TukTukRider March 2, 2024

        True, resources are limited. But isn’t innovation the key? Maybe it’s time for smaller players to pool resources or for the government to step in with support.

      • EcoWarrior March 2, 2024

        What about the environmental impact of all these cheap imports? Where’s the conversation about sustainability and greener manufacturing practices?

    • MarketMaven March 2, 2024

      Cheaper imports have their place in the economy too. They allow access to goods for people who can’t afford the pricier local options. Isn’t that important?

  2. Montri M. March 2, 2024

    Appreciate all the insights. Our focus at the FTI is indeed on innovation and quality improvement. We are also lobbying for more government support to level the playing field. The sustainability aspect is on our radar as part of the long-term strategy.

    • BizWatcher March 2, 2024

      Good steps, but action speaks louder than words. We’ve heard promises before. Without quick and comprehensive action, local industries might not make it.

  3. Beansprout March 2, 2024

    All talk about competition but what about the consumer? We’re getting the short end with these low-quality imports. I’d pay more for quality but often can’t find local alternatives.

    • ShopperGirl March 2, 2024

      Exactly! It’s a battle finding good quality local products. Entrepreneurs should see this as an opportunity rather than just a challenge.

  4. GreenTechie March 2, 2024

    While focusing on product quality and brand image is important, integrating sustainable practices into products could be a major selling point for Thai industries.

    • TechBro March 2, 2024

      Sustainability’s definitely the future, but the tech and initial investment for greener manufacturing can be pretty steep. Hope the government steps in.

  5. PolicyMaker March 2, 2024

    This discussion underscores the need for a balanced approach, considering both the economic and social impacts of imports. The government is exploring policies to address these concerns.

    • LocalPatriot March 2, 2024

      Actions please, not just exploration. We’re talking about livelihoods here.

  6. VentureVista March 2, 2024

    What if we saw this as an opportunity for collaboration rather than competition? Joint ventures with foreign companies could bring in the best of both worlds.

    • StartUpStar March 2, 2024

      Joint ventures sound great in theory, but they often don’t pan out well for local businesses. We risk losing control over our own industries.

      • VentureVista March 2, 2024

        It’s all in the execution. Proper regulation and clear agreements can mitigate those risks. Plus, the exposure to global practices can be invaluable.

  7. OldTimer March 2, 2024

    Back in my day, we took pride in our workmanship. I fear this fast-paced, profit-driven world is eroding the values that built our industries.

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