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Move to enhance service sector competitiveness

Sep 03. 2012
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By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
THE N

The Commerce Ministry's Trade Negotiations Department in cooperation with the Board of Trade of Thailand will soon make proposals to promote the competitiveness of Thai service enterprises when the sector is liberalised under the Asean Economic Community

After a meeting on “Service Business: Strategy to AEC and Beyond”, Srirat Rastapana, director-general of the department, said serious attention should be given to four service sectors – tourism, information technology, construction, and logistics – as they are priorities for liberalisation this year.

A draft of the proposals, including on the development of human resources and adjustment of business operations, will be presented to the Cabinet for drawing up an action plan to help the growth of service businesses, she said.

Thailand last year committed to allowing other Asean member states to hold a majority share of 51 per cent in businesses in these four segments. However, the cap remains 49 per cent because of technical problems in the liberalisation process.

Ajva Taulananda, honorary president of the Board of Trade and the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said private Thai service enterprises should urgently bring their operations up to an international standard, while focusing on foreign-language education for their personnel. Enterprises should study the culture of each country in Asean to increase business opportunities on trading and investing in the region.

Weerasak Kowsurat, former minister of tourism and sports, said Thailand should stringently enforce its laws to create fair practice for local and Asean investors under the AEC. Thai enterprises should not consider Asean investors as competitors, but as good partners to help strengthen businesses and expand overseas.

True Corp chief executive officer Supachai Chearavanont said that although Thai telecommunications could not yet compete with Singapore’s, the Kingdom had good basic infrastructure and was ready to become Asean’s logistical centre.

Suwit Ratanachinda, an adviser to the Thai International Freight Forwarder Association, said Thai logistical competitiveness was lower than in other Asean countries. The Kingdom should urgently develop basic infrastructure to provide better service and reduce costs.

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