Now is the time to invest in Thailand, PM tells APEC summit
Prime Minister and Finance Minister Srettha Thavisin on Wednesday told the world and business leaders attending the APEC CEO Summit 2023 that now is the time to invest in Thailand. The Thai PM noted that the government is ready to work with all partners, old or new, public or private, to push economic development under the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
Srettha is in the US this week for the 30th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in San Franciso, being held from November 11-17.
Government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke on Thursday reported the gist of the PM’s address to the summit, which opened with Srettha emphasising Thailand’s readiness to be back in business.
Srettha told the summit that with a stable political climate, the Thai government is pushing ahead with various economic policies. The priorities are to amplify growth, boost competitiveness and elevate Thailand’s position as a prominent destination for trade and investment.
Great importance is also placed on creating a conducive and enabling environment that attracts investment, and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship, while fostering collaborations for sustainable growth and development, he added.
Srettha mentioned APEC’s achievements over the years, especially in successfully lifting millions out of poverty through open trade and investment among partners and business communities in the Asia-Pacific region, which is home to one-third of the world’s population and contributes to almost half of the global trade.
The Thai PM then shared his vision of how APEC and the business community should work together for further success, with emphasis on sustainability, technologies and innovation, and trade and investment.
On the issue of sustainability, Srettha pointed out that the Bangkok Goals on BCG (bio-circular-green) Economy adopted last year by all APEC leaders provided the much-needed pathway for sustainability actions. He applauded the launch of the BCG Pledge by the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), and urged all companies to sign on and contribute to it.
As for technologies and innovation, Srettha said the rapid emergence of ground-breaking technologies, such as generative AI, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT), is profoundly reshaping the business landscape, manufacturing processes, and daily lives. As APEC economies navigate the transition to this new paradigm, close cooperation and exchange of relevant knowledge and technologies is increasingly crucial if all economies, particularly developing economies, are to access the opportunities in an affordable manner and equitably reap the benefits.
Srettha also urged APEC to invest in and enhance education systems to equip its citizens with the skills needed to thrive in this fast-evolving digital age.
Lastly, on the issue of trade and investment, Srettha highlighted the importance of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), which helped increase trade across APEC from US$7.5 trillion in 2001 to about US$27 trillion in 2021. He added that Thailand will work on upgrading existing FTAs to reinforce the interconnectedness of APEC economies while opening up new trade and investment opportunities for the partners.
Srettha said Thailand also recognises the need to keep supply chains open and resilient against potential future shocks. For this reason, the country has prioritised improving physical connectivity and investing in infrastructure. This includes upgrading airports throughout the country and embarking on a mega project to develop a land bridge to connect the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand.
“This land bridge will considerably reduce the commute time between the Indian and Pacific oceans and mitigate the constraints faced in the area. The vision is for Thailand to become a regional hub for commerce and logistics within this decade,” Srettha said.