Thai cabinet approves e-commerce action plan

Thailand’s cabinet accepted the Kingdom’s e-commerce action plan that aims to increase revenues from online businesses to roughly $165 billion next year and support the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The first phase of the plan covers 2021 and 2022 and the government has included among its objectives an aim to increase the e-commerce revenues of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by at least 5 percent a year and outbound cross-border e-commerce revenue by at least 5 percent a year during that time frame.

It will promote integration among 20 state agencies, 8 Ministries and the private sector, while also supporting local e-commerce platforms so that they will be able to compete against regional and global platforms better.

When it comes to the size of the e-commerce market, the increase could be much higher than the revenue targets. Lazada, a regional e-commerce platform said that it expects Thailand’s e-commerce industry to see double-digit growth this year because the pandemic has spurred more people to shop online.

The company does not expect that trend to fall off even after the public health situation returns to normal and people return to brick-and-mortar shopping.

Online retail in Thailand accounts for only 8 percent of total retail value now, the company said, but there is tremendous room for growth because of the Kingdom’s 91 percent mobile phone penetration rate.

That type of growth is taking place across much of the Southeast Asian region. Facebook and Bain and Company reported 70 million new online shoppers in the region since the start of the pandemic last year.