Thai PM and global execs call for regional synergy

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha called for greater synergy and innovation by Thailand and four of its neighbors last week, and global executives echoed his views, saying that greater connectivity between with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Viet Nam would multiply their growth and economic power.

“Shared prosperity within the region must be led by the private sector, and the governments must play the role of facilitators by building the groundwork for development,” the Prime Minister told the CLMVT Forum 2019 held in Bangkok.

The CLMVT is composed of the five northern nations of the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The acronym stands for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Viet Nam, and Thailand. Thailand is the most economically developed and technologically advanced of the five countries.

Prayut warned that “new technologies will render our existing production network obsolete,” and urged the country’s neighbors to embrace digital transformation.

Speaking at the same forum, Christian Wiedmann, president of BMW Group Thailand, said the five countries must focus on technology, innovation, and digital change if they want to survive the disruptive forces sweeping global business.

“Those countries are the investment destinations for the automotive sector, so the region offers more potential for investment and business,” Wiedmann said.

Douglas Foo, president of the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, concurred, saying the “CLMVT should prepare for new waves of digital disruption of their business sectors, as they cannot avoid this trend.”

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba said the five countries should establish a common e-commerce platform to give their small and medium-size businesses more channels to market and sell their products.

Chetan Arun Narake, chief executive of India’s Chandragan Group, said the CLMVT governments should work together to attract investment and to ease doing business.

“If the five governments set a new single regulation, it would facilitate doing business,” he said.