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FTA provides Thai opportunity

WA Business News, Australia

FTA provides Thai opportunity

by Colin Jacoby

9 March 2006

The Western Australian office of Sea-Slip Marinas (Australia) Pty Ltd is bidding for more than $500,000 of contracts this year to provide marina pontoons in Thailand.

The marina developer was asked to bid for a major contract to build 100 boat pens at the Phuket Boat Lagoon following the installation of a 30-metre sample pontoon for the marina last year.

Sea-Slip WA manager Jim Scott said the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement was a major reason why the company targeted Thailand.

“If it wasn’t for the TAFTA we wouldn’t have been able to compete,” he said. “The duty on our product was 40 per cent pre-TAFTA, but now it is at zero per cent.”

According to Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia, the TAFTA has resulted in the elimination of more than half of Thailand’s 5,000 tariffs - affecting nearly 80 per cent of Australian exports - since its inception at the beginning of last year.

At present, CCIWA said 80 WA companies have registered to take advantage of the TAFTA.

Thailand is now Australia’s 10th largest trading partner, according to the chamber.

Mr Scott said Sea-Slip was up against three competing developers from the US, the UK and France.

“There is potential for Australian marina developers in Thailand, now that Australian products enter tariff-free and more marinas are being built,” he said.

Mr Scott said the company also offered marine management training in Thailand.

“Asian companies don’t have this type of training. We will supply training and provide assistance on mariners in Thailand.”

Mr Scott told WA Business News the company was looking at other markets, including Shanghai, however in the short term the Chinese market was not a high priority.

“Chinese companies like you to partner up with them,” he said. “We are not looking into entering any long-term relationships at the moment.”

The company may consider setting up an office in Thailand next year if it wins the contract.

In December 2004, Sea-Slip was one of 15 Australian companies to showcase its marine products at Phuket International Marine Expo, which runs every December and brings together boat enthusiasts and product makers.

The following year, the company took $50,000 worth of product to PIMEX to make an impression on Asian marina operators.

The WA office of Sea-Slip began operations in August last year and caters for the Western Australian, Northern Territory, South Australian and South-East Asian markets.

The TAFTA, according to Trade Minister Mark Vaile, immediately improved the access for Australian exports to one of the fastest growing economies in South-East Asia.

It is envisaged that, by January 1 2010, Thai tariffs on virtually all goods imported from Australia would be eliminated.