Commerce Ministry develops five strategies for Thailand 4.0

3_thai4.0info-01The Ministry of Commerce announced five new strategies last week to support Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national transformation to a more advanced economy, including a stronger focus on trade in services, promoting start ups, and supporting small and medium size enterprises in order to stimulate economic growth while building resiliency in the face of uncertain external economic trends.

Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said the ministry, in its role as the marketing arm of the country, would work as a national facilitator and business-development unit to drive Thai economic growth, as well as promoting exports and investment overseas. The ministry has also stressed development of human resources as part of national business development under Thailand 4.0.

Thailand 4.0 is intended to accelerate the Kingdom’s economic transition from its reliance on manufacturing goods designed overseas to growth driven by Thai innovations, creativity, research and development, higher technology and value-added production. It is a visionary and ambitious agenda that requires cooperation and synergy across government ministries, agencies and the private sector.

While the shift also seeks to rebalance the economy from an over-reliance on exports towards more investment and domestic consumption, trade will always be a major piston in Thailand’s economic engine.

As with many advancing economies, services are increasing as a share of gross domestic product (GDP). As such, the minister said the first strategy would focus on trade in services, as services are now contributing as much as half of Thai GDP.  Service industries that the ministry will focus on to start are spas, film, animation, restaurants, medical services, and hospitality. Thailand has a strong reputation and track record in each of them.

Exports from service industries have the ripple of effect of stimulating manufacturing, usually value-added manufacturing, Apiradi said. When Thai hospitality services can operate overseas, export of Thai food, kitchenware, home decorative items, clothes and textiles all have greater potential to reach new markets and expand, she said.

She also said that the ministry would push for new regulations to encourage innovators and researchers to commercialize their new ideas and products. Stronger protections for intellectual property, streamlined approval systems and more liberal trade would be among the measures the ministry will work on or lobby for.

Agriculture and food production will continue to be among Thailand’s strengths, so the ministry will also encourage farmers to take marketing into their own hands so they can reach more customers and keep more of the profits from what they sell.

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