Uttama: Japan and S Korea express support for SMEs

Uttama: Japan and S Korea express support for SMEs

The governments of Thailand, Japan and South Korea are planning a joint effort to help support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), says Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana.

He said the three countries have started talks to set up intergovernmental, support organisations to enhance efficiency and competitiveness of SMEs not only in Thailand, but also in Japan and South Korea.

The three countries are due to sign memorandums of understanding soon. The deals will be struck in terms of Thailand-Japan cooperation and Thailand-South Korea cooperation, said Mr Uttama.

According to the agreements, the three countries will provide and exchange trade and business information as well as give tips on market access in their respective countries.

He said they will also help facilitate technology transfers in order to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs in each country.

"This matches the goals of the Thai government, which wants to help Thai SMEs invest abroad," said Mr Uttama.

He added that the technology transferred from Japan and South Korea will help speed up Thai SMEs drive towards the Thailand 4.0 era.

The three countries are now in the stage of negotiating and hammering out the details on setting up organisations and how they will work in order to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs to provide mutually beneficial economic support.

Mr Uttama said the Thai government had also set up several committees and cooperations to support Thai SMEs, particularly to push them to expand abroad.

To that end, the Thai government has set up three major funds supporting Thai SMEs worth a total of 37 billion baht.

The first fund was established under the Pracha Rat (People's State) initiative and is worth 20 billion baht. The second fund, worth 15 billion baht, operates under the SME Development Bank. The third fund, worth 2 billion baht, is handled by the Office of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion.

In 2017, the government aims to lend support to another 3,000 companies in targeted sectors such as services, food and food processing, agriculture and healthcare.

Somchai Harnhiran, the permanent secretary of the Industry Ministry, said the government also plans to propose that the cabinet further approve a "SME transformation" loan, which will be a soft loan intended to help enhance and transform Thai SMEs so that they are strong enough to expand abroad.

"The SME transformation fund, worth 15 billion baht, is due to be submitted for cabinet approval next week," he said.

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