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Thailand sells itself as gateway to Mekong region

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This sign is in Sop Ruak, a Thai village on the Mekong River where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- The Stock Exchange of Thailand is hitting the road this year to promote its wares to potential customers. But unlike previous attempts to flog Thai stocks to overseas investors, its motivation now is to educate foreign companies -- particularly those in Japan, China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam -- about its new, more relaxed approach to taxation and regulation, and encourage them to look to the Bangkok bourse as a funding platform.

     Thailand is capitalizing on the new wave of foreign direct investment into the Greater Mekong Subregion -- comprising Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and southern China -- by positioning itself as the finance hub for the burgeoning area. Its strategy is two-pronged. As the area's bigger and more sophisticated cousin, Thailand hopes to be the capital market on which Cambodian, Lao, Myanmar and Vietnamese companies can raise funds. Its strategic position also means it can be the launchpad for Japanese and Chinese companies looking to push into the subregion.

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