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16 J. Int'l Trade L. & Pol'y 2 (2017)

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Received 6 September 2016
Revised 26 November 2016
Accepted 2 December 2016

Journal of International Trade Law
and Policy
Vol 16 No. 1, 2017
pp. 2-33
©Emen ldPublishing Limitd
DOI 10.1108/JITLP-09-2016-0019

Identifying Thailand's high-potential

             export opportunities in

                 ASEAN+3 countries

                                   Ludo Cuyvers
  Centre  for ASEAN     Studies,  University  of Antwerp,   Antwerp, Belgium, and
  Faculty   of Economics and Management Sciences, North West University,
                            Potchefstroom, South Africa

          Ermie   Steenkamp, Wilma Viviers and Riaan Rossouw
   Faculty  of Economics and Management Sciences, North West University,
                         Potchefstroom, South Africa, and

                                  Martin   Cameron
       TRADE Research Advisory (Pty) Ltd, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Purpose  - This paper aims to identify Thailand's realistic export opportunities (REOs) in the
ASEAN+3   countries (i.e. ASEAN, Greater China, Japan and South Korea), which together constitute an
economically dynamic region and a strategic export destination for Thailand. Furthermore, the paper
seeks to determine the extent to which Thailand already has a share in ASEAN+3 countries and where
new  opportunities lie. This allows the formulation of appropriate export promotion strategies for
Design/methodology/approach - The methodology   used is a decision support model (DSM) which uses
an extensive data-filtering system to systematically screen and eliminate less-promising product-country
combinations to ultimately reveal high-potential REOs. Product-country combinations are screened on the
basis of country risk; macro-economic country performance; market potential in terms of import growth and
import market size; and market access conditions, including market concentration and the existence of trade
barriers. The thus narrowed-down REOs are categorised according to Thailand's relative market share in, and
the characteristics of, the identified import markets.
Findings - The study reveals that the ASEAN+3 countries account for about 40 per cent of the total
potential export value of Thailand's REOs in the world, with China leading the way (12.45 per cent), followed
by Japan (8.56 per cent) and South Korea (6.23 per cent). However, Thailand has a relatively small or
intermediately small market share in the majority of these REOs, pointing to the need for more offensive and
exploratory export promotion strategies.
Research  limitations/implications - The ASEAN+3   countries - given that they are an abundant
source of REOs for Thailand and are in Thailand's backyard - should receive more focused attention and
resources in government export promotion efforts. The recent launch of the ASEAN Economic Community
and the proposed establishment of an East Asia Free Trade Area lend weight to the idea of Thailand adopting
a strong regional focus in its export activities.
Practical implications - The insights derived from the study are valuable for export promotion
officials, industry representatives and practising exporters alike, as they constitute an easy-to-digest
snapshot of high-potential REOs for Thailand in the ASEAN+3 region. This makes for more efficient
planning and prioritising of export development activities, and a more streamlined approach to resource
Originality/value - Export promotion shows diminishing returns and requires sustainable strategies and
interventions. The value in this paper lies in its description of an innovative market selection tool, the DSM,
which is able to process and filter high volumes of information and arrive at a shortlist of high-potential REOs

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