The Government will give a major boost to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), so that they will become a firm foundation for the development of Thailand’s creative economy.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva emphasized the “Creative Thailand” policy, aimed at moving Thailand forward with the use of the creative economy as a major driver for the country’s economic development.
According to the Prime Minister, the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion, under the Ministry of Industry, is mapping out the third SME Promotion Plan, to be implemented from 2012 to 2016. The first five-year SME Promotion Plan was implemented from 2002 to 2006. The second one, which began in 2007, will end in 2011.
Apart from promoting the creative economy by adding value to Thai products from local wisdom and cultural heritage, the third SME Promotion Plan seeks to strengthen SMEs and enhance their competitiveness in the world market. The plan also calls for more support in research and development for SMEs and greater cooperation with Thailand’s trading partners in various regions of the world. In the next five years, new markets will also be sought for Thai SMEs, and local clusters of enterprises will receive greater attention.
Prime Minister Abhisit stated that the Government has a policy to develop SMEs as social enterprises, which will help ease social disparity and inequality in Thai society. The policy will also create a more positive attitude between civil society and the business sector. In this connection, he urged all organizations in both the public and private sector to give their full support to the stability of the Thai economy in the long run.
There are currently 2.9 million SMEs across Thailand. The number accounts for 99.8 percent of all businesses in Thailand and generates employment for 9.7 million people, or almost 80 percent of all jobs in Thailand.
The Prime Minister said that SMEs now earn the country 3.5 trillion baht annually, accounting for 37.8 percent of Thailand’s Gross Domestic Product. The export value from SMEs in 2010 came to 1.7 billion baht, an increase of 8 percent over that of the previous year. The value represents 28.4 percent of Thailand’s total exports.
He said that SMEs play an important role in empowering Thai communities and passing on Thai cultural heritage to younger generations. He also urged SME operators to prepare themselves for greater competition and opportunities from the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community in four years’ time.
In enhancing SMEs over the past two years, the Prime Minister said that the Government has focused on facilitating their operations, developing SME operators through the Ministry of Industry’s network, and building up logistics within various SME industries. In addition, it has encouraged SMEs to develop themselves into creative industries.