Sunday 21 July 2019

Thai tycoon sees strong opportunities for Irish-Asia trade

Research trip: Soopakij Chearavanont, known as Chairman Chris, at the Anglers Rest in Dublin. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Research trip: Soopakij Chearavanont, known as Chairman Chris, at the Anglers Rest in Dublin. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Shawn Pogatchnik

The head of Thailand's biggest corporation says he sees strong opportunities to grow Irish-Asian trade following his first visit to Ireland.

On a three-day mission this week, CP Group chairman Soopakij Chearavanont said his Thai conglomerate had the scale and savvy to open tens of thousands of retail doors for Irish goods in Thailand, China, Japan and even the USA.

Bangkok-based CP Group is the world's largest exporter of prawns and animal feed, is a leading Asian producer of beef and chicken, oversees more than 200 subsidiaries in China, owns 11,000 7-Eleven convenience stores in Thailand, and includes telecommunications, insurance and infrastructure in its vast portfolio.

As part of his trip, 54-year-old Mr Chearavanont met Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, senior figures in the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia and the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, as well as scores of Irish food and beverage producers seeking a profitable path to Asian supermarkets.

The usually media-shy magnate told the Irish Independent in an exclusive interview he is confident that new ties forged during his trip would mean Irish goods will soon start to appear on CP Foods's shelves.

"For sure," he said. "Not just (in) Thailand. Asia. America. Global. We have a big distribution network."

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