THAILAND - Business people are happy that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is helping to boost trade opportunities - but experts in international relations have questioned whether the returns warrant the cost of her globetrotting.
Federation of Thai Industries chairman Payungsak Chartsutipol said getting business people to join her trips increased opportunities for trade and investment with foreign countries.
Representatives from related business clusters are usually allowed to join each trip. Normally, 27 to 70 people tag along. However, delegates from as many as 109 agencies joined in the trip to China last April, he said.
"When coming with the government, Thai businesses can access foreign government and private organisations and foreign firms gain more confidence to invest in Thailand," he said. "Many times, the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking had chances to sign MoUs with foreign private organisations and open business opportunities such as information exchange and business matching."
Last month, the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking signed memoradums of understanding (MoUs) with Montenegro's Chamber of Commerce, the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Italian Industry.
When joining trips with the PM, companies covered their own travel costs, but is it worth the money in the long run?
"As far as I know, the companies are happy because they get more opportunities than they would if they went by themselves," he said.
Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of Thai Chamber of Commerce, said that after these trips, the private sector was able to maintain ties through means such as the annual exchange between chambers of commerce.