BANGKOK, 5 April 2012 Industry Minister M.R. Phongsawat Svastiwat has urged the Thai SME sector to adapt itself in preparation for the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), due to take place in three years time.
Following the “AEC Roadmap for SMEs” seminar, M.R. Phongsawat said that there are currently 20,000 medium enterprises and 2.98 million small enterprises in the Thai SME business sector. With the fast approaching establishment of the AEC in 2015, the Industry Minister has advised all 3 million SMEs entrepreneurs to quickly adapt themselves to brace for the regional integration.
He explained that both progressive and passive strategies must undergo modification while production technology, labour quality and capacity must be maintained in relation to the market situation. Even though certain Thai products will have an edge against it competitors’ after the AEC has been officially formed, others will have to face fiercer competition as some foreign investors relocate their production bases to Thailand while others are forced to shift to countries with lower production cost.
Regarding the 300-baht wage increase, although SME businesses may be impacted, the policy helps elevate the quality and skills of the Thai labour workforce. At present, the majority of unskilled workers in Thailand, who receive low wage, are immigrants. Thus, SME entrepreneurs should take advantage of the AEC to expand investment in neighbouring countries where labour wages remaisn, such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos, as well as expand investment in industrial estates located along the border in order to handle the consequence of the recent wage increase.
The Industry Ministry will assist SME entrepreneurs to prepare for the AEC by holding 75 seminars in 45 provinces across the country. It is hoping to attract 8,000 entrepreneurs to the programme this year. Trained entrepreneurs will later be chosen to create a network with entrepreneurs from the CLMV group, which include Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
(NNT : suwit)