World Economic Forum will enhance Thai competitiveness

The World Economic Forum will begin working with a special unit of the Thai government to devise ways to increase Thailand’s competitiveness, speed up and shape industrial reforms, and promote inclusive growth, the Asia-Pacific head of the Forum said last week after meeting with government officials.

“The Thai government is on the right track to implement innovation and technology development, with Thailand 4.0 meant to help strengthen Thai economic growth,” said Justin Wood, head of regional agenda in the Asia-Pacific region for the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Wood made the comments after meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who oversees the economic ministries and is widely regarded as the government’s chief architect for the economy.  Somkid said that the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) would most likely be the government unit assigned to work with the WEF.

The NESDB is a think tank that develops five-year plans for the economy, setting overall objectives and strategies, and that reports directly to the Prime Minister. It has been helping to chart Thailand’s economic course since 1960.

Thailand has embarked on a 20-year national development strategy dubbed Thailand 4.0 that seeks to transform the economy and society from dependence on rote learning and traditional manufacturing to reliance on innovation, creativity, research and development, and higher and green technologies.

That dovetails perfectly into the approach of the WEF, as Wood said the organization is seeking to assist Thailand in directing its development over the longer term.

The WEF is an international organization for public-private cooperation with the aim of shaping global, regional and industry agendas. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, it engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society.

The Forum also publishes an annual global competitiveness index, in which Thailand has risen rapidly in recent years. Wood said that the data for the next report and index has already been gathered and will be published in September or October.

Aside from advising on industry reforms, Wood stressed that it is important for Thailand’s economic gains to be spread more evenly throughout society.

“The WEF wants to ensure inclusive economic growth for all stakeholders as well as the development of the business community,” he said.

Somkid added that the government has asked the WEF to organize a forum in Thailand next year and hold it in parallel with the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the 10-nation economic and security grouping. Thailand will be the chair country of ASEAN next year.

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