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Japan firms keen on Thai digital economy: minister

Aug 02. 2016
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By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
THE N

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JAPANESE enterprises have shown high interest in investing more in Thailand’s “digital economy” and foresee the government-supported industrial clusters as engines for strong economic growth, according to Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn.

After meeting with the president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce (JCC) Bangkok, Shinko Sato, she said Japanese enterprises were interested in participating in the 10 industrial clusters targeted by the government.

“Japanese enterprises have foreseen Thailand as a centre of Asean and linkage to countries in the Greater Mekong [Subregion] and Asean,” she said.

According to the latest survey by the JCC, 33 per cent of Japanese enterprises in Thailand plan to expand their investment in the country. Half of them said they would continue to use Thailand as a major manufacturing base.

Apiradi said she had informed Japanese enterprises that the government has a policy to increase Thailand’s competitiveness and facilitate more investment here. It has drawn up investment and economic policies as a national agenda for the next 20 years (2017-2035) to promote more investment in high technology and the “digital economy” policy.

Thailand’s policy could serve Japan’s “Thailand Plus One” strategy, under which Japan will use Thailand as a major manufacturing and export base as well as cooperate with third countries.

JCC Bangkok has also called for the Thai government to support more investment by Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises, as the Japanese government is encouraging SMEs to do business abroad.

As the Thai government has a plan to promote SMEs as well, it has urged Japanese SMEs to join with their Thai counterparts to do business here and in other countries.

The JCC also urged Thailand to accelerate the wrapping up of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership by the end of this year so that Thailand, Japan and 14 other countries could strengthen economic cooperation.

In addition, after the Japanese government announced it would delay increasing its value-added tax from April next year to October 2019, Apiradi warned that the Japanese economy could continue to face slow growth. Thai enterprises and exporters to Japan therefore need to be more concerned about quality and price competitiveness, as Japanese consumers will spend their money carefully.

According to a report by the ministry, Japan is Thailand’s second-largest trading partner after China. In the past five years, average annual bilateral trade value was US$62.03 billion. Last year, two-way trade was valued at $51.31 billion (Bt1.783 trillion), down by 10.37 per cent from 2014.

Meanwhile, to promote export growth, the International Trade Promotion Department will nominate Thai marketing representatives in many targeted markets.

Malee Choklumlerd, director-general of the department, said the representatives would provide marketing strategies for Thai enterprises in response to local demand.

At first, marketing representatives will be nominated for Lima, Peru, Ningxia, China, and Hiroshima, Japan.

The department will spend about Bt20 million to Bt30 million under this project.

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