Thai 4 continues to make great progress while making significant changes to the culture, industrial status and economy of Thailand. There is now further encouraging news that other countries – especially in Asia – are willing to invest in the new commercial routes that Thailand is taking. Japan in particular is not only investing money, but skills, partnerships and exports and imports.
What is Thai 4 all about?
The goal of Thai 4 has been to bring the Thai industry into the 21st century. In many ways this has meant re-visiting current commercial processes and introducing digital tools and robotics to create a more cost-effective production base which can stand in competition with other major producers across the globe. It has also meant focussing on re-aligning job roles within industry. The aim is to educate the worker at all levels with new powerful ways of working which will streamline production across the commercial market. To manage the huge changes that are taking place there has therefore been a need to employ foreign executives with a knowledge of new systems to guide and ensure constant progress.
Thai 4 is focussing on specific industries. They include:
- Biotechnology and Agriculture
- Smart electronics
- Digital enhancement
- Health and Wellness tourism
- Medical Science
Japanese investment welcomed by the Thailand minister of commerce
As reported in The WorldFolio, Thailand’s Minister of Commerce, Sontriat Sontijirawong commented “Japanese investment is an investment of quality. Japan not only invests to produce here, but they also transfer knowledge and technology. Japanese companies are very keen in terms of technology transfer, providing skills and being ahead in terms of innovation and quality.” This surely could not reflect a greater faith in Thai developments. Not only are they prepared to act as mentors, offer their skills and expertise but they are also prepared to partner in production.
An historic relationship
This is not a case of Japan taking an interest in Thai commercial markets. For some time now there has been a strong partnership in the automotive and biochemical industries. For instance, Thailand provides production capabilities with Japanese giants such as Nissan and Toyota. Future projects are exciting and innovative and aimed at streamlining an ecosystem for the next generation of cars – electric vehicles.
The Mitsibushi Chemical Corporation also holds a joint venture partnership with Thailand’s PTT Global Chemical. The project here is to develop bio-degradable plastics which could in turn help to revolutionise the plastics industry.
One of the most well-known of Thailand’s industrial projects is the EEC (Eastern Economic corridor). Up until now, Japan has proved to be the largest invested above all other foreign contributors. Last year, in 2017, Japan invested more than $1.1 billion.
Benefits for Japan in terms of ASEAN
However, this is not singularly about the relationship between Thailand and Japan alone. Japan’s interest is far from being altruistic. Both countries work together and give each other benefits in developing new systems and products and streamlining processes.
For Japan, one of the most important factors is Thailand’s relationship to the ASEAN. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a political and economic organization aimed primarily at promoting economic growth and regional stability among its members. The 10-member states are Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Statistics suggest that if ASEAN were a country it would be the 7th largest economy in the world and by 2050 it is expected to be the 4th largest economy in the world.
Mr Sontijirawong said “Thailand’s strongest advantage is that we are at the centre of Asia. So it’s geographically strategic for Japan to relocate and expand their investment here. If they have their manufacturing base in Thailand and set up shop for example in the EEC area, not only do they have access to our domestic market, but to all of the ASEAN.”
He added “One thing that the Japanese admire is that they can find a quality workforce in Thailand. Our people are educated people and are prepared to work with high technological advancements. We cannot be compared to our neighbouring countries, as we are moving to an added-value-driven economy, so we compliment perfectly Japan’s strategies of using Thailand as a hub. We can exchange and transform technology”1
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