In Thailand exports are up, fuelled by the growth in the auto manufacturing sector. Backed by investor-friendly policies, good access to parts, technology and a skilled workforce, global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), especially automakers, are flocking to Thailand and established manufacturers are expanding production.
To better serve this market, WWL is in-sourcing its sales and customer service organisation in Thailand. The step is a move to better coordinate its business in a growing market.
“It’s a natural step for us to in-source sales,” says Trond Tønjum, Vice President and Head of South East Asia. “Wilhelmsen Ship Service (WSS) has been our agent for two decades, and have done a brilliant job growing WWL’s ocean business to and from Thailand. But by being under one roof, we can better coordinate our sales, offer even better solutions for customers and a better overall portfolio.”
The change in business structure is also intended to bring efficiency gains and open up development of WWL’s business beyond ocean logistics. For customers, the move should not affect their day-to-day relations with WWL, Tønjum underlines. “By bringing our agent into the fold, our team will stay the same,” he says.
Sunee Phansatitwong, who was responsible for the WWL sales at WSS, has now joined WWL as General Manager Commercial in Thailand.
“Me and my team have now become part of a wider logistics team, offering all aspects of logistics from factory to dealer,” says Phansatitwong. “We are naturally very pleased to continue supporting our customers in the region.”
The move to in-source sales anticipates market changes currently underway in the country. Tønjum sees two major factors as greatly influencing the development of the logistics business in the country. The first is better trade ties. New Asian Economic Community (AEC) agreements underway are due to ease exports between South East Asian markets. As one of the largest export economies in the region, Thailand is expected to benefit from closer trade with neighbouring countries.
“With AEC coming into effect from January 2016, we expect cross border trade to increase,” says Tønjum. “Thailand will become a natural production hub and a transit country for most of South East Asia including Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam.”
The second factor affecting the market is the growing production capacity of auto manufacturing in the country. Auto exports are expected to almost double during the next 3-4 years, from about 1.2 million to 2.2 million vehicles.
“Thailand is now joining the ranks of global production hubs like Mexico and South Africa and others as a major exporter for auto makers,” says Tønjum. “We now expect the exports from Thailand to go beyond South East Asia to Europe, Australia and North America, and we are ready to offer our services, expertise and support.”