Austrade has announced the opening of an export-facilitation office for Australian exporters in Phuket, Thailand. The addition of this office has seen Austrade expand its global network to 137 offices worldwide. Austrade's Bangkok-based Senior Trade commissioner Sean Riley said the new office would assist Australian businesses aiming to secure a bigger slice of the southern Thai island's booming construction, marine, and food & beverage sectors - and the related products and services sought by these industries. "Phuket is becoming a regional economic centre for Thailand, with more global companies setting up business there to take advantage of opportunities," Mr Riley said. "Austrade - the Australian Government's trade-promotion agency - wants to make sure Australian exporters get the best crack at these opportunities."Phuket's economy grew a healthy 4.6 per cent in 2005, driven by tourism - which is rebounding from the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, a year when tourist visits to the tropical isle exceeded 3.5 million. The island is also home to world-class international schools and hospitals, and has many direct flights to Australia and the Thai capital, Bangkok.Mr Riley said business opportunities stemming from Phuket's tourist hub status were "far and wide". "Major opportunities are out there for Australian businesses, especially in the construction, marine and food and beverage sectors," he said. "It's worth stressing that these sectoral opportunities also extend to related products and services; for instance, beauty products and services needed for a new beauty clinic."In construction, Phuket is enjoying a property boom, with multi-million-dollar homes, resorts, hotel and other projects being built. Many island property developers are also keen to build to international standards, including the use of architecture and designs, related services, and environmental products. "In the marine sector, Australian businesses should be keeping their eyes on opportunities relating to the new luxury marinas planned for the island. Phuket is known by boating enthusiasts as the "boat capital of South East Asia" and plays host to the annual Phuket International Marine Expo," Mr Riley said."With food and beverage, there are many international-standard restaurants in Phuket, some of which already import Australian products. You can also find our products in hotels and department stores," he said. "Visitors and Thai consumers in this region would be keen to see more Australian products."Austrade's new Phuket-based Business Development Manager, Alisara Na Takuatung, will work closely with Austrade's Bangkok office to maximise Australian business involvement in projects in the region. "Phuket and southern Thai businesses are familiar with Australian products and services, and rate them highly," Ms Alisara said. "There is huge potential for Australian companies there." Ms Alisara, who worked for years as a businesswoman in Phuket, also said the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) was boosting Australian exporters' competitiveness.
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