Don suggests synergising Thai-Japanese growth strategies
Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, participated in a webinar on “Envisioning the Future: Thailand-Japan Strategic Economic Partnership”, along with other representatives of Thailand and Japan.
The webinar, attended by 978 participants, was organised jointly by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Japan on July 21.
The objective was to provide a platform for exchanging views among high-level representatives from the public, private and academic sectors on how Thailand and Japan can enhance economic cooperation amid current opportunities and challenges in bilateral, sub-regional and regional levels.
In particular, the Covid-19 pandemic which has widely impacted the economy, society as well as well-being of people, have made both sides realise that to move forward, development must be pursued with focus on sustainable and inclusive growth in order to create peace, prosperity and sustainable wellness for people across all economic zones, regions and the world at large, the Thai Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don also proposed ways for cooperation with Japan in order to further strengthen the strategic economic partnership. He emphasised the importance of synergising Thailand’s new growth paradigm, the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economy model, with Japan’s Green Growth Strategy in four main areas:
▪Transformation of Thailand’s automobile industry to the complete zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) industry by utilising Thailand’s over-30 year experience as a global automotive production base;
▪Bio-cycle creation consisting of bio-fuel and bio-mass in economic circuit;
▪Smart food industry
▪BCG entrepreneurship incubation as well as skilled labour development in BCG-related industries.
Japan's Ambassador to Thailand Nashuda Kazuya gave a special lecture on “Towards a new stage of Japan-Thailand cooperation”.
He underscored the everlasting friendship between Thailand and Japan through thick and thin, especially when Japan was hit by disasters during the great earthquake and tsunami and when Thailand faced severe flooding over a decade ago. In these situations, both countries had shown true generosity in helping each other, he said.
Recently, Japan also granted 1.05 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to Thailand and provided various forms of assistance to help support the efforts of the Thai government in coping with the Covid-19 situation.
Nashida stressed the importance of Thailand as a long-term key production base for Japanese companies. He noted that looking ahead, Thailand and Japan should focus their cooperation in new areas especially on:
(1) establishing the co-creation partnership, which focuses on enhancing collaboration and social development through brainstorming, finding constructive solutions, bridging the gaps, and creating innovations;
(2) Strengthening and mobilising the industrial sector towards sustainability by setting up a fund valued at 2 trillion yen (approximately US$18.1 billion) for the private sector to conduct research and development in carbon neutral technology to create a low-carbon society by 2050 in line with Thailand’s flagship BCG model, which aims to stimulate the expansion of new businesses and investments from Japan.
The panel discussion was conducted under the theme “What now & What next: Thailand-Japan Strategic Economic Partnership in Challenging Times”.
Amongst the panelists were: Sihasak Phuangketkeaw, special adviser of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EECO), former permanent secretary for foreign affairs and former ambassador to Thailand to Japan; Chirapan Oulapathorn, chairman, Thai–Japanese Industrial Cooperation Institute; Aree Chavalitcheewingul, president of Cementhai Holding Co Ltd; Yurugi Yoshiko, chief representative at the Asian Representative Office in Bangkok, New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation; Prof Oizumi Keiichiro, professor at the Institute for Asian Studies, Asia University; Chokki Morikazu, chairman of Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) Co Ltd; and Morita Keisuke, managing director of Spiber (Thailand) Ltd.
The panelists exchanged views on how to create value for the future of Thailand-Japan Strategic Partnership. They highlighted, among others, the importance of synergising Thailand’s BCG economy model and Japan’s Green Growth Strategy by working together on related industries, particularly ZEV and bio-industries, through human resource and high-skilled labour development and implementation of digital technology with the EEC as the targeted area. The panelists also suggested digital integration to facilitate the digital economy infrastructure.
While Japan’s public sector sees Thailand as global production base with well-equipped infrastructure and attractive investment promotion policies, they suggested capitalising on the huge Japanese business community in Thailand to move forward their mutually beneficial partnership and tackle new economic challenges.
In this regard, a five-year Joint Strategic Plan on Thailand-Japan Strategic Partnership should be formulated, which would coincide with the 135th anniversary of the establishment of Thailand-Japan diplomatic relations in 2022.
In the webinar, Don said Thailand and Japan have shared 134 years of "true friendship", highlighting that both countries had together gone through many challenges and always extended each other a helping hand.
Thailand and Japan established diplomatic relations in 1887 and later became strategic partners in 2005.
Japan is Thailand's second biggest trade partner, with total trade valued at US$50.556 billion in 2020.
Also, the country is the biggest investor in Thailand, with around 15,000 companies registered in the country. Japan sees Thailand as an important investment base in the Southeast Asia region.
In 2018, Japanese private companies agreed to collaborate with the government to develop a smart city in the Eastern Economic Corridor.