Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Srettha Thavisin has urged investors to invest more in Thailand, saying that the country is ready to work with all partners from around the world, be they old or new, public or private.
The Prime Minister on 15 November 2023 delivered a keynote address at the APEC CEO Summit 2023, held during the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, at the Summit Hall, Moscone Convention Center (West), San Francisco.
In his address, Prime Minister Srettha stated that, with a stable political climate, the Thai government is pushing full steam ahead with various economic policies now taking center stage and being vigorously implemented. 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 also shared his vision on how APEC and the business community should work together for further success. First is the issue of sustainability. The Prime Minister said that the Bangkok Goals on Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy adopted last year by all APEC leaders provide the much-needed pathway for such actions. And Thailand is pleased to play a leading role toward this landmark document. This year, the United States, as host of APEC, has carried the ambition forward and made advancing the Bangkok Goals a top priority, with much success, indeed.
Prime Minister Srettha 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. He was also pleased to learn that the National Center for APEC (NCAPEC) convened the first-ever Sustainable Future Forum to galvanize efforts from other stakeholders. These undertakings are good examples of fruitful public-private cooperation that APEC can spearhead, and APEC looks forward to even stronger progress going forward.
Domestically, Thailand is also proud of its ongoing efforts toward sustainability. This year, the country is ranked 43rd on the SDG Index; first in Southeast Asia. The country is committed to building on this momentum by further advancing a green economy and energy transition, while redoubling efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and net zero by 2065. To this end, Thailand is actively promoting green finance through the issuance of Sustainability-Linked Bonds to stimulate the growth of the Green Bond market. The country also focuses efforts on reducing fossil energy use and investing in renewable energy.
At the same time, Thailand is also championing the development of the electric vehicle (EV) industry. The goal is to establish a comprehensive EV supply chain that includes all kinds of electric vehicles, from cars, to bikes, to buses, as well as all their parts and components. The ecosystem to support and facilitate these businesses will also be improved, for instance, by providing investment privileges in the special economic zones, building centers for battery testing, offering labor development courses, and expanding charging station infrastructure.
Second is technologies and innovation. 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. Importantly, these advancements usher in new and exhilarating opportunities for growth. As APEC economies navigate the transition to this new paradigm, close cooperation and exchange of relevant knowledge and technologies is increasingly crucial in order for all economies, particularly developing economies, to be able to access the opportunities in an affordable manner and reap the benefits in an equitable way.
At the same time, he said, APEC must also invest in and enhance education systems to equip its citizens with the skills needed to thrive in this fast-evolving digital age. Deeper collaboration in applied sciences and frontier research is equally essential, to pave the way for future breakthroughs. In Thailand, the Government is planning to utilize blockchain technology to implement the Digital Wallet scheme. Not only will this help to boost domestic economy, but it will also elevate digital awareness and skills. In the long run, the Government’s commitment lies in transitioning to a digital government, fostering interoperability, and implementing a paperless strategy to raise efficiency and effectiveness of public services. It is also eager to welcome investments and skilled workforce to bolster Thailand’s digital industries.
Third is the issue of trade and investment. APEC has played a key role in expanding intra-regional trade and investment, thereby uplifting the livelihoods of millions. The numbers speak for themselves. Through the years, trade across APEC increased almost fourfold within two decades: from 7.5 trillion USD in 2001 to about 27 trillion USD in 2021. The Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, or FTAAP, remains a vital aspiration, and APEC’s continued work on its realization will be a cornerstone in this journey.
Beyond the FTAAP, Thailand is equally dedicated to accelerating other bilateral and regional trade architectures, to create new partners and reach new markers. The country will also work on upgrading a number of existing FTAs, in response to new and emerging challenges. By doing so, it hopes to reinforce the interconnectedness of APEC economies while opening up new trade and investment opportunities for the partners.
Thailand also recognizes the need to keep supply chains open and resilient against potential future shocks. For this reason, Thailand has prioritized improving physical connectivity and investing in infrastructure. This includes upgrading a number of airports throughout the country. In addition, the country is also taking full advantage of its geographical location in the region and embarking on a mega project to develop a Land Bridge to connect the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand. This will considerably reduce the shipping 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.