Thai chamber of commerce presents roadmaps to government for new growth, boosting competitiveness
The chambers of commerce around the country are pushing for roadmaps to drive new growth for Thailand – especially measures to improve Thailand’s competitiveness ranking, which plunged by five spots this year.
The roadmaps were drafted during the 40th general assembly of the chambers of commerce held by the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) in Ubon Ratchathani province from Friday to Sunday.
At the conclusion of the assembly, titled “Connecting the dots: Enhancing Thailand's Competitiveness”, TCC chairman Sanan Angubolkul summed up the roadmaps in three words – “Connect, Competitive, Sustainable”. Some 1,200 representatives of chambers of commerce and state agencies joined the assembly.
Speaking to the press after the assembly, Sanan said an urgent agenda of the provincial chambers of commerce is to coordinate efforts between the government and private sectors to raise Thailand’s competitiveness ranking.
Sanan said Thailand is suffering from an economic structure crisis that has caused the country’s competitiveness ranking to fall five spots from last year.
According to the World Competitiveness Ranking 2022, Thailand fell from 28 last year to 33 out of a total of 63 economies this year, as the Kingdom tries to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sanan said competitiveness could be enhanced with government support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that need to apply digital transformation to increase the effectiveness of their business operations.
“Digital transformation is not an alternative or a way out for SMEs, but it must be a main course of action for their success amid economic crises that are piling up this year,” Sanan said.
Apart from the economic structure crisis, Sanan cited three other crises:
• Energy prices and consumer products’ prices
• Rising cost of manufacturing and inadequate agricultural materials
• Financial crisis for households and SMEs.
“So, the solution for Thailand to return to economic strength is to find ways to increase its competitiveness in all dimensions – especially the economic dimension through mechanisms that will integrate the work of all sectors,” Sanan said.
The roadmaps were drafted in terms of flagship projects for driving provincial economies, including agriculture, trade, investment and tourism projects. They have been compiled into a white-cover book that the TCC submitted to the government at the end of the assembly.
Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow represented the government and received the white-cover book from the TCC at the press conference on Sunday.
During the press conference, Sanan further explained the roadmaps as:
■ Connect — the TCC aims to forge cooperation among networks in Thailand and abroad. The TCC aims to increase the number of its members from 100,000 to 200,000 within three years with a goal to increase SMEs’ economic strength. And the TCC will connect chamber members nationwide to brainstorm ideas for developing the economies in the provinces.
■ Competitive — the TCC will support government efforts to increase Thailand’s competitiveness in all dimensions. It called on the government to follow up on the success of the recent hosting of the Apec Summit to draw more foreign direct investments into the country as well as expand free trade agreements with other countries.
Sanan said the TCC will work closely with the Board of Investment to draw investments from strategic targets, which are Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and India, while preserving investors from Japan and the United States.
The TCC will ask the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission to revise the rules to make it easier for foreign businesses to invest and operate in Thailand.
The TCC also will call on the government to revise and reform laws on property held by foreign investors, Sanan added.
The chamber also will work with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to implement the Trade & Travel policy by creating soft power for each province and promoting tourism in secondary-tier provinces, Sanan added.
■ Sustainable — the TCC and its provincial chambers will push for the implementation of the Bangkok Goals on the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economic model for developing economies in provinces with sustainability during the next five years. The BCG model is aimed at reducing wealth gaps nationwide, Sanan added.
During the assembly, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa delivered a special speech on Saturday to back up the BCG economic model, which he said must be implemented together with the ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) policy.
Varawut said the government has a policy to implement the BCG economic model in order to slash carbon emissions by 40% within eight years, but the administration needs cooperation from the private sector to reach the goal.
Varawut said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had pledged the goal during an international climate conference last year.
He added that the BCG economic model would be linked to employment of workers in the agricultural and food sector, health and medical sector, bio-energy and tourism. The value of BCG-related businesses would rise to 4.4 trillion baht, equivalent to 25% of Thailand’s GDP, in the future, he said.