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Metal Casting Technologies : December 2010
10 www.metals.rala.com.au BRIEFINGS cars, facilitating the expansion of auto companies like Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and Suzuki. Strong Baht worries Thai exporters Although the current strength of the Thai Baht has helped manufacturers in Thailand to reduce their import costs of equipment, machinery and raw materials there are growing concerns over the negative effect on exports. For example, the Electrical, Electronics and Allied Industry Club of the Federation of Thai Industries have suggested that the Bank of Thailand should pay more attention to the problems faced by exporters instead of worrying about inflation. The likely 2010 export numbers for appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners are lower than expected earlier in the year due to the rise of the baht against the US Dollar. Other regional currencies have also appreciated so Thai industry still believes that it can remain competitive with other Asean producers. To avoid exchange difficulties some Thai companies have reduced their order taking period from six to three months. On an optimistic note the Thai Automotive Industry Club said that, in spite of the strong Baht, vehicle and motorcycle producers in Thailand are likely expand their production next year. The number of vehicles built is predicted to increase from 1.67 million units this year to at least 1.87 million units in 2011 with the 2011 export figure due to reach one million units, putting Thailand into the top 10 automotive producing countries. For 2010 Thailand is expected to be the third- largest car exporter in Asia In 2012 Ford will transfer production of the Focus model from the Philippines to Thailand after setting up production facilities jointly with Mazda that will cost $450 million and create 11,000 jobs at the plant and in supplier companies. Suzuki, of Japan, is also building its first car assembly plant in Thailand close to the new Ford facility. By 2020 it is expected that 2.5 million vehicles will be built in Thailand however the shortage of skilled workers, notably technicians and engineers, is a problem that must be addressed if the auto industry is to expand. For example, the Thai Auto-Parts Manufacturers Association recently announced that although the auto parts industry currently employs 350,000 workers it was still short of some 50,000 people. It is estimated that another 100,000 are employed in support industries for auto-parts. The association has 578 member companies out of a total of around 3000 auto-parts producers in Thailand about 80% of which as SMEs. The parts producers want the Industry Ministry to establish an auto parts testing centre in Thailand by 2015 so they can ensure that their production meets international standards. The latest survey by the federation of Thai Industries found that some 44% of industrial companies were optimistic about future operations with 33% expecting a slowdown and 23% expecting significantly lower performance. According to the latest report from the World Economic Forum (www.weforum. org), out of 139 economies Thailand has dropped two places to 38th in overall competitiveness compared to last year, and significantly has fallen 10 places since 2006. Due to ongoing political instability over the same four years the ranking for public institutions in Thailand has plunged 30 places to 70th position. In line with the concerns of the auto-parts industry, the report also stressed that Thailand needed to improve higher education and training and the adoption of new technologies. 2011 Global Automotive Symposium April 20-21 Shanghai The theme of the conference will be Commercialisation and Industrialisation of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles: Global Development & China's Experience. The inaugural Global Automotive Symposium was held in April this year in Beijing. Close to 50 senior executives, analysts and government officials attended as speakers and discussed China and World Market in the Next Decade: Innovation, Green Vehicles & and Global Competition. GAS 2011 will feature keynote addresses from multinational and domestic chairmen, CEOs and government officials, round- table discussions, and presentations from industry analysts, senior OEM and supplier executives, as well as from executives of battery manufacturers, national grid and charging companies. Speakers are now being invited to ensure a top of the line international conference. Contact: email@example.com. Launch of the Nanotechnology Association of Thailand This October the Nanotechnology Association of Thailand was officially launched by Prof. Sirirurg Songsivilai, the inaugural President of the Association at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in Bangkok. The launch program included a special talk by Khun Payungsak Chartsutipol, Chairman of The Federation of Thai Industries on "Capability of Thai industries: Innovation and Technology Challenges". Prof. Sirirurg gave a presentation on "The role of the association towards society and economy" and also promoted the upcoming "NanoThailand 2010" conference which is organized by the Association and is to be held during November 18-20 at the Thailand Science Park in Pathumthani, near Bangkok. Included in the technical programme at the conference are sessions on industrial and energy/environmental aspects of nanotechnology. Further information on nanotechnology in Thailand and the new association is at www.nanoassociation.or.th Information on NanoThailand 2010 is at: www.nano-thailand.com SUBSCRIPTION WINNER Congratulations to Eric Bundesen from Bundy Sales who is the winner of our Special Renewal Offer for December 2010 renewals. Eric will receive a complimentary one year subscription to the Metals magazine.