The Teak industry in Thailand

    Teak forests found-mostly in the region have been modestly exploited from time immemorial to satisfy both domestic and external demand.


    Thailand’s geographic position, mid way between India to the west and China to the east, was extremely suitable for supplying with the international maritime market linking other entrepots along the trade routes connecting Malaysia, Java, Borneo, Acheen and the Philippines. Significantly along the west coast of peninsular Thailand there was the port of Tanaosi, Marit and Phuket, all comparatively close to Coromandel in India, and on the east coast there were ports in Songkhla, Nakhorn Sri Thammarat, as well as the most important port of all, Bangkok. Placed at the estuary of the Chao Phraya River, the confluence of many rivers in northern Thailand, Bangkok was the port where teak products and teak log from inland areas were floated downstream for subsequent export.


Since the 14th century Malacca was the centre of East Asia is maritime trade, and Ayutthaya was well positions on the way between Maleca and China. Chinese trading junks, equipped with compasses, were highly advanced in navigation, and Chinese merchants naturally took control over the Straits of Malacca. Chinese ships anchored in Ayutthaya to load their vessels with bountiful products from the inland areas of present-day Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, which includes the historical kingdom of the Mons, Chiang Mai, Luang Phrabang. The southern ports stored spices and other rarities from India and the Middle East to sent them to Ayuttaya. At the same time the southern ports exported forest products and Chinese trade goods to various neighbors in Southeast Asia And India. Al though the kingdom of Ayuttaya had her own trading ships, the Chinese merchants and their junks played a crucial role in Ayuttaya’s foreign trade. At that time teakwood is a good material for building and repairing and tradingships.


Until 1880, Chinese and Burmese immigrants were the dominate player in Thailand’s teak industry.


    In about 1882, the attention of Westerners, chiefly that of the British (some of whom were already working teak in Burma) was attracted to the teak forests of Thailand. Since that time a small number of European firms, using European capital, but largely employing Chinese, Laos and Burmese for labor, controlled most of the industry. Although a treaty in 1883 reflected a better outlook regarding new regulations in leases, it was not until 1888 that a forest was actually worked by European company.

A History of Teak Forestry in Thailand by Suriyan Moonsarn, Forest Industry Organization (F.I.O.) Bangkok Thailand Third Regional Seminar on Teak Potentials and Opportunities in Marketing and Trade of Plantation Teak Yogyakarta-Indonesia , July 31-August 4 , 2000



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