By ERICH PARPART
THE improvement in stability and certainty when compared to the same period last year, along with expected recovery of the economy, have created a good business sentiment for 2015, the Thai European Business Association (TEBA) said.
However, as most members of the association are manufacturers, TEBA has recommended that the current and next governments intensify efforts to boost Thailand’s long-term competitiveness through investment in soft infrastructure such as education and human resource development, to tackle the problem of shortage in skilled labour.
They also commended changes made by the Board of Investment (BoI) in investor privileges, especially the focus on research and development, as a move in the right direction in terms of improving the country’s competitiveness.
“The government is now trying to be quicker in its decision-making and we feel there is a genuine effort to get the economic engine back on track. We remain optimistic about Thailand,” said TEBA president Uli Kaiser.
TEBA’s membership doubled to 65 last year. About 70 per cent of its European and Thai members are manufacturers and more than half of them are directly in the automobile industry, including original equipment manufacturers along with tier 1 and 2 suppliers.
Kaiser said the BoI now has a clear programme and it is expected to be more active in the coming years. He said TEBA welcomed the idea of putting the BoI under the Prime Minister’s Office along with the promotion of an International Headquarters and International Trading Centre.
However, the challenges that remain are communication and cooperation between the BoI and other state agencies such as Customs, Immigration, and Revenue departments locally and internationally with their European counterparts both from government and private sectors.
“Investment in education is imperative for long-term investment in industrial R&D and today most manufacturers have RDI [Research, Development and Innovation] departments but they have difficulty finding high-skilled people to employ,” Kaiser said.