Women drive Thai economy but take back seat in politics: Abhisit
Former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva has hailed the “crucial role” women play in driving Thailand’s economy but pointed out they do not enjoy the same power in politics.
Speaking at Thursday’s opening session of the “Global Summit of Women 2022” – titled “Doing Business in Thailand” – Abhisit noted that women make up half the workforce and 40 per cent of executive posts in large Thai companies.
However, though Thailand was the first Asian country to allow women to vote, their representation in leading political roles is still low, he added.
The opening session was led by Marguerite Soeteman-Reijnen, who chairs the executive board of Aon Holdings.
Abhisit went on to list five reasons why Thailand is a top destination for doing business and setting up corporate headquarters.
He said the Kingdom enjoyed strong fundamentals, with multiple potentials, investment-friendly conditions, leaders in many fields, and new and emerging opportunities.
Thailand is a middle-sized economy with space for businesses to grow, he explained, adding that investment here could bring access to the CLMV market (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) of 300 million people. Businesses setting up in Thailand could also tap the wider Asean market of 620 million consumers, plus the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership covering around 30 per cent of the world’s population and GDP.
Abhisit said the Thai economy was also well-diversified, with the automotive and computer sectors enjoying strong export ties with powerful markets such as the US and China. Thailand was also Asean’s top automotive exporter and biodiesel producer while ranking as the world’s fifth most popular destination for tourists.
Meanwhile, the Board of Investment (BOI) was boosting investment-friendly conditions by introducing a smart visa, One Start One Stop Investment Centre, and long-term resident visa, he added.
On emerging opportunities, Abhisit said Thailand was a great choice for companies’ regional headquarters, citing a recent cost-of-living survey that ranked Thailand at 46 – far cheaper than other major Asian cities such as Hong Kong (2) and Osaka (23).
Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the Eastern Economic Corridor, told the session that the EEC is the prime gateway to Asia. He also highlighted the new high-speed railway linking Thailand’s Nong Khai border with Laos and China.
Meanwhile the EEC’s Rayong, Chonburi and Chachoengsao provinces were being equipped with 5G technology to support the 12 targeted S-Curve industries with clusters of automation and robotics, health and wellbeing, and smart logistics. Kanit added that the EEC had chosen the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economic model to embrace environmentally friendly business and investment.
Thailand is hosting the Global Women’s Summit for the first time. The 32nd edition of the event brings together leading businesswomen from various sectors from all over the world. Most of the participants are female corporate leaders and entrepreneurs.
The focus of this year’s summit is reviving women’s economic progress following setbacks suffered during the pandemic. The summit sessions will see professionals sharing advice on what works in this new economic landscape, whether it be government policies or business practices.