Thailand’s Prime Minister and Defense Minister (and the Chairman of ASEAN in 2019) told an academic forum that the country is ready to support micro-SMEs in the adoption of digital technology and sees the private sector’s participation as an important mechanism for further collaboration within the ASEAN region.
The PM, chairing the academic forum titled “ASEAN Micro SMEs in the Digital Era: Challenges and Opportunities”, stated that the conference was called to seek ways to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-SMEs to adopt digital technology, while also seeking environmental development.
The efficient use of digital technology is essential, as micro-SMEs currently make up over 95% of all businesses in each ASEAN member state.
Micro-SMEs now contribute 43% of Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP) and must be acknowledged as a major economic driver.
Supporting micro-SMEs has been part of the national agenda since 2014, a policy that will be further strengthened while Thailand is the ASEAN Chairman.
The Thailand PM called on all ASEAN governments to pursue the adoption of digital technology by even its smallest businesses. He urged those present to develop an understanding of the problems, issues and obstacles of the public and private sectors. One main problem is the cooperation of private businesses, how much or how little SMEs understand the situation.
The PM has been working to have SMEs conform to the system since this matter became part of the national agenda and have achieved considerable success in terms of generating awareness of the need for digital technologies in business, which reduce time, processes and costs considerably.
The government can also support those who enter the system with funds. What he needs from ASEAN governments is a way to encourage and entice these entities.
The forum brought together noted experts from ASEAN and its trading partners as well as from private, academic and civic organizations.
Representatives of G20 nations were present for many of the event’s seminars, discussing the challenges and opportunities inherent among micro-SMEs during the transition to the fourth industrial revolution.
Thailand pushing digital adoption
An earlier OpenGov Asia report noted that Thailand is in the process of gradually shifting from a manufacturing to a high-value, hi-tech manufacturing economy.
The country is putting all its efforts into promoting the use of advanced technology, science, and innovation in parallel with the development of infrastructure and the right business ecosystem to drive economic development with the targeted industries as the main catalysts.
The Thai government has identified targeted industries that will support the national transformation into an advanced economy driven by science, technology, and innovation.
Some of these targeted industries are automation and robotics, aviation and logistics, biofuel and biochemicals, digital technology and medical hub.
It is important for Thailand to continue to support local SMEs to enhance their capability through advanced technology adoption.
Once the companies upgrade their capability and become advanced manufacturers, they will enjoy a strong economy and enhanced national competitiveness.
The success of these innovative companies will inspire more businesses to explore investment opportunities and follow in their footsteps. When change comes on a larger scale, an economic transformation will follow, thus enhancing national competitiveness.
This success is also indicative of the progress the country is making on its Thailand 4.0 goals. Particularly, the aim of transforming Thailand’s comparative advantage into a competitive advantage through knowledge, technology, and innovation.