“Rules should be rules. Some regulations are not clear enough – like foreign property ownership. Investors want clarity. It builds confidence. Unclearness will obstruct investment,” he said.
As the Thai government aims to make the country a hub for regional offices, Mr McKay suggests the authorities set up long-term plans such as those implemented by Singapore.
“You need to know what type of business you want to attract,” he added. “Pharmaceutical and biotech is a good opportunity to tap but key factors to building a regional hub include infrastructure, the tax system and education.
“Thailand should make a big investment in education to create more jobs and improve working skills. For instance, in the Philippines people can speak English and now it is becoming a rival to India in the call centre business.”
The country also needs more aggressive strategies to compete with other countries and also should differentiate itself from others, he said.
The property market has bounced back and continues to improve in 2010 after a sluggish year in 2009, he said. Colliers recorded a 20% decline in the first half of 2009 but ended up with results on a par with 2008 as the second half was quite strong.
“The situation in Europe was worse but the Asia-Pacific region has come back, pushed by emerging markets like India, China and Southeast Asian countries,” he said.
Colliers and FirstService Real Estate Advisors (FirstService REA) recently announced that they would combine their operations and global real estate services platforms. The combined entity will operate as Colliers International in 61 countries.
FirstService REA is an autonomous subsidiary of publicly traded FirstService Corporation on Nasdaq. With the announced integration, Colliers International is now ranked as the world’s third-largest real estate services firm.