Dear Members, Partners, Board Members, Working Group Chairs and Members, Consortium Partners, EU Delegation and Embassy Partners as well as other Stakeholders of EABC,
The Year is coming slowly to a close and a lot has happened in the Year 2016.
Six years have passed since we first started establishing a "European Chamber of Commerce" which became EABC. It was sometimes a bumpy ride with many adjustments, reviews and a long learning curve. We had to correct misunderstandings, explain our values to embassies and our complementary position to our consortium partners.
As our grant will be concluded as per 23rd December 2016, I am proud to report that we have fulfilled all requirements as stipulated in our work plan. That means we can exit the grant having achieved all tasks as specified in the contract with the EU. Sometimes this was not easy as some activities were not conclusive economically viable. Many details in the contract were complicated and created difficulties in the implementation phase. Nevertheless we finally succeeded and we need to thank the various stakeholders of the project like the GTCC as consortium leader, the bilateral European Chambers of Commerce in Thailand, the EU Delegation and the European Embassies. We hope they will continue to support our activities beyond the contract period.
With the suspension of FTA negotiations our main argument has been taken away. Despite this we could establish ourselves as a trusted partner to help the Royal Thai Government to become more competitive, transparent and more business oriented. As the first Chamber of Commerce, EABC has been invited by Government agencies to participate in working groups to tackle the many obstacles that prevent a further growth of the Thai economy. Never before has any Government taken such a bold step to involve the private sector at such scale. For the benefits of our members EABC has taking up this challenge and is ready to work with various government agencies to make business easier for European companies in Thailand.
Our activities in 2016 have extended greatly and our recognition among our members, in particular within our working group partners, has grown steadily. Our connections at government levels are strong and we could deliver values for our members more than ever before. We had over 100+ meetings with the government or at working group level. That means every 2.5 working days we have delivered on our main activity - ADVOCACY. Therefore I strongly believe our value proposition towards our stake holders could be achieved and hopefully this will lead to a new membership drive. Therefore my thanks go to our Working Groups Chairpersons and their members. Without their voluntary hard work and many unpaid hours to prepare the Position Papers we would not have achieved that strong recognition among the business community.
It goes without saying that I appreciate the trust and support of our members over this year. I believe our members have appreciated our work and mostly understood the importance of our work. Our positive achievements do not only benefit large corporations as often claimed but also small and medium sized companies. To cater even closer for their needs we have established a SME Working Group that will tackle their particular problems. We have made connection to Thai SME's and respective Government agencies. With our activities we are planning next years for our new SME Working Group in particular European SME's will greatly benefit.
Finally, all in all EABC had a successful year and I like to thank my fellow Board Members for their guidance and help during the sometimes extensive Board Meetings. We all can be proud that to conclude the Grant contract successfully. Still there will be new challenges as we have to ensure sustainability over the coming years. We need to strive to bring our values over to members and encourage them to become or remain members respectively extend their connection by signing up for a partnership agreement. Without their support we will not be able to fulfil our objectives. Therefore we need to cater for the needs of our members and partners and try to show how EABC can help them in achieving their business goals.
Without the engagement and support of everyone, these achievements would not be possible. That's why I encourage everyone of you to continue with your good work and support of EABC. I am convinced with your continued help we will succeed in achieving our mission also in 2017. Please stay tuned.
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you and your family. See you with new strength in 2017