Trade, digital transformation, green economy will build Asia: PM

FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2024

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin came up with three guidelines to help the region cope with geopolitical conflicts and digital transformation at the 29th Nikkei Forum titled “Future of Asia” in Tokyo on Friday. 

Addressing the topic “Asian Leadership in an Uncertain World”, he said Asian nations should play a global role in coping with geopolitical conflicts, such as the ongoing unrest in Myanmar, Ukraine and the Middle East, as well as the threats China poses on Taiwan. He also advised that nations pay more attention to bringing long-term prosperity to their citizens, as well as maintaining peace and stability in their region. 

“To restore democracy in Myanmar, Thailand supported peace talks among several parties and enhanced humanitarian assistance for Myanmar people living near the country's border,” he said.

Srettha also noted that multilateral cooperation and globalisation are declining as great powers compete against each other. Yet, he said, there is plenty of opportunity to restore regional collaboration.

As for digital transformation, he said the world is changing in a big way and the region will need to consider its benefits and losses, developing human resources, promoting education and enforcing law that supports innovations. 

“Asian countries must coexist and show their roles on the global stage,” he said, adding that to achieve this, Asian countries need to collaborate on trade and investment, green transition and digital transformation.

Trade, digital transformation, green economy will build Asia: PM

When it comes to trade and investment, he said Asia should promote multilateral cooperation with the World Trade Organisation, as well as push for a fair, transparent and comprehensive free trade and investment ecosystem. He added that free trade agreements (FTAs) can help expand Asian economic partnerships and bolster trade and investment.

The premier also thanked Japan for promoting the collaboration between the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and Southeast Asia. “Thailand currently has 15 FTAs with 19 countries,” he said, adding that agreements with seven countries are in the pipeline, including the European Union and European Free Trade Association.

Srettha further added that Thailand is improving the investment ecosystem and standards to boost the country’s global competitiveness and attract more investors. 

As for green transition, the premier said collaborative efforts are necessary to tackle climate change. He said Thailand’s first Climate Change Act will be enforced in the next few years and that the Department of Climate Change and Environment has been set up to oversee work against climate change in Thailand.

The premier said the government is ready to receive additional investment in green hydrogen and carbon capture systems, as well as carbon credit market expansion.

“The government is working on becoming a transportation hub and building a comprehensive electric vehicle (EV) supply chain, with an aim to increase the production of zero-emission vehicles by 30% within 2030,” he said.

Plus, he said, ASEAN countries are working on a regional power grid to boost renewable energy production and promote the use of eco-friendly energy. “Thailand has guidelines to increase the production of electricity from clean and renewable sources by at least 50% within 2040,” he said.

Srettha said Thailand had launched green bonds in 2021 and will release additional sustainability-related bonds worth around US$1 billion (36.76 billion baht) within this year. 

Trade, digital transformation, green economy will build Asia: PM

As for digital transformation, the PM said Thailand adapted to the digital era during the Covid-19 pandemic, when lockdowns made electronic payments, food delivery applications and e-commerce platforms a necessity. Thailand has also built cross-border payment systems that connect with many countries, including ASEAN and Japan, he said. 

“Digital technology does not only build the digital economy but also a digital society,” he said.

Srettha added that he expects US-based technology giant Microsoft to set up its regional data centre in Thailand, which he reckons will boost digital literacy among ASEAN countries and benefit the local digital economy. Additionally, he said ASEAN was currently discussing the Digital Economy Framework Agreement, which should bolster the region’s digital economy by $2 trillion by 2030. 

“These three guidelines will help Asia achieve what it should be,” he said, confirming that Thailand will stand beside Japan no matter how the world changes.