Past & present

The history and outlook of the Thai-Finnish Chamber of Commerce

Gustaf John Ramstedt, Chargé d'Affaires (Bangkok/Tokyo) 1919–1929

Early diplomatic and trade relations since 1919
Siam, the predecessor of the Kingdom of Thailand until 1939, recognised Finland’s independence on 9 October 1919 as the first country covering Southeast, East, and South Asia and laid the groundwork for a long-standing relationship. Thailand and Finland established diplomatic relations in 1954, and Finland’s Permanent Mission in Thailand defined their primary interest as promoting commercial and economic ties in 1980.

“The Thai Prime Minister negotiated trade and superpower relations”. PM Prem with President Mauno Koivisto on 23 May 1988.

The Thai-Finnish Trade Association (TFTA) – promoting bilateral trade since 1989
Prime Minister General Prem Tinsulanonda led the Thai Business Delegation to Finland in May 1988 and negotiated the development of trade relationships with Finland’s Prime Minister Mauno Koivisto. One of the agreements was to establish the Thai-Finnish Trade Association (TFTA) to “serve and promote trade activities between Thailand and Finland”. The representatives of Thai and Finnish companies established
TFTA in Bangkok on 6 March 1989. The founding members were Boonchai Bencharongkul, Viravat Cholvanich, Nadha Indhakara, Jyrki Lehtovaara, Chartchai Lertsachanant, Esko Pajasalmi and Viboon Vongsiridej. The trade promotion successfully boosted commerce: between 1989 and 1992, Thai exports to Finland grew four times, while Finnish exports to Thailand grew ten times, creating a platform for steady trade development.

Pertti Salolainen and Chuan Leekpai

The Thai-Finnish Chamber of Commerce (TFCC)- evolving as a member of the global Chamber of Commerce network since 1992
The Royal Thai Ministry of Commerce granted the charter to TFCC on 21 September 1992, and TFCC gained valuable membership in global and national business networks. The charter offers TFCC the benefit of belonging to the Chamber of Commerce network, the most significant business network globally, covering around 12,000 chamber offices in more than 100 countries. TFCC is a member of Finland’s Chamber of Commerce (established in 1918) through its international arm, Finncham, and the Thai Chamber of Commerce (established 1932) and Board of Trade (BoT). The roof organisation of the foreign chambers of commerce in Thailand, the Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce in Thailand (JFCCT, established 1976), organises networking opportunities for its members and promotes relationships with Thai governmental agencies. JFCCT acts as an advocate or the collective voice of the foreign business community towards the Thai government.

Founding members of TFCC Manob Song-Im (centre left) and Viravat Cholvanit (centre right in TFCC 30 Gala Dinner in 2022

TFCC as a stepping stone for Finnish companies and Nordic cooperation
TFCC provided a forum for Finnish and Thai companies to collaborate and a valuable stepping stone for Finnish companies, large and small, to establish business enterprises in Thailand. TFCC identified similar interests with the other Nordic Chambers of Commerce, and they developed the cooperation further. They organised joint business seminars, networking opportunities, and social gatherings – this collaboration continues today. Finnish and Nordic products and services have achieved a strong reputation in Thailand, providing quality and high value to Thai counterparts. The Thai-Finnish trade has been developing rather steadily. During the last 20 years(from 2003 to 2022), annual exports to Thailand increased by 92% (from 130 to 250 million euros), and yearly imports from Thailand increased by 350% (110 to 500 million euros). TFCC has smoothened the path for numerous successful companies over the years.

Business Finland presentation at the residence of the Ambassador Mrs. Satu Suikkari- Kleven.

TFCC today – improved productivity and efficiency
Our membership base has steadily remained at the 60-member level in recent years. TFCC and many other chambers of commerce have outsourced tasks and improved efficiency to achieve healthy financial results. Meeting people face-to-face is still essential when encountering like-minded people and establishing new business opportunities, and the popularity of TFCC’s Gala Dinners and other events is proof of that. The cooperation with the Embassy of Finland and Team Finland is as vital as ever, as are the regional Finncham counterparts in the ASEAN region.

TFCC Board in TFCC 30 Gala Dinner in 2022

TFCC tomorrow – transformation to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) age
The internet and digitalisation have fundamentally transformed how chambers of commerce operate, and AI is further changing how people work. To remain relevant and impactful, chambers of commerce, including TFCC, must adapt and innovate their services, embrace online platforms, and become advocates for businesses in the digital age. We aim to connect business people and bridge communities; personal networks continue to play a vital role in business in Asia and grow globally. We want to increase the member base and look for a new type of members, including young professionals. Strong Nordic brands pave the way for further opportunities, for example, in developing digital and circular economies. Our business community values equality, respect, trust, and harmony – sometimes, we honour the traditions and draw strength from “sisu”, a Finnish concept about inner strength.

Past Presidents

1992-1993 Esko K. Pajasalmi
1993-1994 Timo Jokinen
1994-1996 Boonchai Bencharongkul (Esko K. Pajasalmi, Alternate President)
1996-1997 Vibul Vongsiridej
1997-1999 Mikko Savilaakso
1999-2002 Sam-Erik Ruttmann
2002-2004 Mikael Wahrn
2004-2008 Mikko Savilaakso
2008-2009 Martti Ranin
2009-2010 Petri Deryng
2010-2014 Marc Spiegel
2014-2017 Pornpracha Wattanakijsiri
2017-2019 Jari Hietala
2019-2021 Jorma Manninen
2021-2022 Antti Rahikainen

Current President

2022-Present Antti Aromäki