Christian Jallabert is the President of the Franco-Thai Chamber of Commerce.
He's also the Managing Director of Thomson-CSF. Scott Murray recently spoke with him about the state of French investment in Thailand.
"French investors have very
clearly indicated that in spite of the crisis, they will remain in Thailand.
They believe in this country, and they realize that the crisis will not
last," he says.
"All of the French
investors in Thailand have prevailed during this crisis, not one closed down or
filed for bankruptcy. They refused to panic after investing so much time and
money into the country. In fact, many French investors came to Thailand during
the crisis because they saw the restructuring in process and because they saw
there was a sound and stable government in power which was ruling wisely. And
all of the French investors that are here are very optimistic about Thailand's
KEY FRENCH COMPANIES OPERATING
* Accor Asia Pacific (Mercure,
Novotel & Sofitel) - The largest hotel management company chain in the
Asia-Pacific recently transferred its regional headquarters to Bangkok.
* Air France - France's national
carrier has also recently moved its regional headquarters from Hong Kong to
* Alcatel - One of the world's
largest manufacturers of telecommunications products and systems has a strong
* Auchan, Carrefour, Big C
Casino are three of the major distribution companies in the world, and they are
all expanding here.
* AXA - the French insurance
giant does business here.
* BNP & Credit Agricole
Indosuez - two major French banks are fully licensed to operate here.
* Bouygues - a major French construction company which
helped to build the athletic stadium at Muong Thong Thani which housed the Asian
* EDF - the French EGAT has also
established its headquarters for the Asia-Pacific in Bangkok.
* Michelin - the tire
* Pasteur Merieux Connaught - a
world leader in the biological field which manufactures vaccines has its
headquarters for the Asia-Pacific here.
* Rhone Poulenc - the large
agroproduct and development firm.
* Sekurit Saint Gobain which
manufactures and sells a whole range of glazings for the automotive industry.
* Thainox, a Thai (the PM Group
and Siam Steel), French (Groupe Usinor) and Japanese (consortium of six
companies) joint-venture with the French having the majority interest. This
steel company manufactures and exports steel to Europe, the US and Latin
* Thomson TV & Thomson CSF -
TV, multimedia & professional electronics by Europe's largest professional
As you can see, the French
presence here covers a large scope with biggest names and makes in French
business and industry. And there are also a large number of French SMEs who are
also thriving in Thailand.
And what about those famous
French restaurants? Well, there seems to be DeliFrance franchises popping up all
over the place, and there's La Boulange on Convent Road. Auberge DAB is a
brasserie in the Mercury Building, at the corner of Chidlom and Ploenchit, which
has the former cook of the French Embassy in Thailand preparing a variety of
culinary delights. It's owned by a Thai lady, who fell in love with French food
during a trip to France. Once a week, she even flies in oysters from Brittany.
Others of note are Le
Metropolitan in the basement of Gaysorn Plaza, whose clientele is mostly Thai;
La Moulin D'Sommai on Rum Rudee; the recently opened Soho on Convent Road; La
Normandie on top of the Oriental Hotel is one of the finest French restaurants
in the region; Chez Philippe's on Sukhumvit Soi 29, and both the Novotel Lotus
and the Novotel Siam Square have fine French restaurants as well.
And when you think of France,
you obviously think of fashion: Kookai, Morgan, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Pierre
Cardin all have franchises here. As well as the famed French jeweler, Cartier.
Mr Jallabert sees many
similarities between Thais and French people. He says both are very independent,
both like to discuss politics and criticize their governments, both like food,
both are very open and both enjoy life. "I have never heard a French person
tell me they do not like Thailand, I even know people who have cried like babies
when they had to leave the country."
He also says that surprising
there are more French speaking people in Thailand than in Vietnam, so much so
that Alliance Francaise cannot keep up with the demand, even though it now has
centers in Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Bangkok. The French language is quite
spread out throughout the country as more and more Thais are wanting to learn
French, and more and more are speaking it.
Mr Jallabert also takes pride in
noting that many of the framers of the new Thai constitution, and many Thai
legal scholars, honed their legal skills in France. Indeed, French expertise and
experience are welcome here.
The French community here is
very well established and gets along well with one another. The FTCC, the
Embassy, the French Trade Commission and the French Counselors for Foreign Trade
all work together harmoniously for their benefit and for the benefit of Thailand
as a whole (SM).
(Monsieur Jallabert, who was
Siam Trade's Cover Story, Vol. 6, #69, will finish his second term as President
of the Franco-Thai Chamber of Commerce this December. FTTC bylaws state that a
president may only sit two consecutive two-year terms at a time.)
Tel: (662) 254-3403
Fax: (662) 254-3400