3 April 2006
Thais have developed a taste for Hong Kong clothing
Garments from Hong Kong are being increasingly sought-after in Thailand. Thais find them smart-looking and within their reach now that they are earning more money.
These are the findings of a study conducted by the Trade Development Council (TDC) which quotes Thai retailers and importers as saying spending on clothing is growing, with fashionable ready-to-wear garments in big demand.
People look for better lifestyles when they're better off. The Thais are no different.
Figures show that around two million people in Bangkok now earn between 20,000 and 30,000 bahts (HK$3,900 and HK$5,850) a month. They are described as "upper middle class" people who are prepared to pay more for clothing that confers cachet.
But the TDC report also discovers that not all Thais know that labels such as Baleno, Bossini, Crocodile, ESPRIT, G2000, Giordano and Toppy are Hong Kong labels, not Western brand names.
The clothing business is buoyant in Thailand also because of cuts in import tariffs dictated by free trade agreements such as the China-ASEAN FTA, which drove tariffs down from 37% to 20% last year, with further cuts planned to bring them down to zero by 2010.
Hong Kong clothing designers are held in high regard in Thailand and their Thai counterparts are keen to work with them to produce garments for the Chinese mainland and international markets, the report says.
The report notes that Hong Kong brands face strong competition in Thailand from American and European brand name ready-to-wear clothing.
Hong Kong companies also face what the report calls "grey market" problems in Thailand. These concern Hong Kong garments that are smuggled into Thailand and sold on the grey market at a lower price.
Hong Kong's clothing exports last year to Thailand amounted to HK$503 million. In the first two months of 2006, Hong Kong's clothing exports to Thailand increased by 23% to HK$88 million.
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