Germany and Britain on board for Thailand 4.0

The government of Germany has agreed to lend its support to Thailand’s efforts to develop a digital economy, signing an agreement last week with the Thai government to set up working committees to help investment and technical assistance, as British business leaders expressed interest in investing in the Eastern Economic Corridor, the showcase development zone for Thailand 4.0.

Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said the German government is committed to helping the Kingdom realize its Thailand 4.0 strategy by assisting Thai authorities in the formulation of a development platform. The Germans will do this by sharing knowledge and experiences from their Industry 4.0, a strategic initiative that has been integral to Germany maintaining its leadership in industrial information technology.

Thailand 4.0 is a 20-year national strategy to transform the economy and society from ones based on manufacturing assembly and rote learning to those based on advanced industry, innovation, creativity, green industries and research and development. It is an ambitious set of proposals with the goal of ensuring that Thailand escapes the “middle-income trap” faced by many developing countries.

German ambassador Peter Preugel said the Industry 4.0 initiative began over a decade ago and has put in place a slew of strategic approaches to bring industries and services into the digital age. Markus Lorenzini, president of the German-Thai Chamber of Commerce, said that by collaborating with Thailand, Germany and its businesses can help enhance the efficiency of Thailand’s industrial sectors through the use of high technology.

The German government will also help Thailand by providing coaching to local small and medium-sized enterprises, he added. There are over 600 German companies operating in Thailand.

Thailand’s incubator and showcase for Thailand 4.0 will be the Eastern Economic Corridor, a three-province area just east of Bangkok that will be home to 10 advanced industries that will be key to transforming Thailand.

Tevin Vongvanich, the Thai co-chairman of the Thai-U.K. Business Leadership Council, said that many British businesses have expressed interest in investing in the Eastern Economic Corridor.

At the end of April, 65 Thai and British executives who are members of the Council met and formed several working groups aimed at increasing investment.

One of the working groups will focus on technology, innovation and investment opportunities, and Tevin said a major goal of that group is to promote the Thailand 4.0 policy for the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation. Rolls Royce and PTT Global Chemical are the leaders of that group.

The group will provide opportunities for investors to obtain information and directly coordinate with the government, said Tevin, who is also president of PTT.