Officials look to future after slight rise in competitiveness
Thailand is hopeful of securing a higher world competitiveness ranking next year after rising two spots in this year's listing by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Tevin Vongvanich, chairman of the Thailand Management Association and a member of the competitiveness committee, said Thailand's score is expected to improve next year because the government has enacted a spate of new policies.
But Mr Tevin, also chief executive of state energy giant PTT Plc, said a better ranking will also depend on how fast Thailand can ramp up its competitiveness as other countries in Asean such as Indonesia and Vietnam improve their own competitiveness.
The latest global competitiveness index of 137 countries was released yesterday, with Thailand rising to 32nd from 34th last year.
The WEF pointed to Thailand's improvements in key criteria such as infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, and market size.
Thailand was third among nine Asean countries after Singapore (third) and Malaysia (23rd).
Indonesia ranked 36th, with Brunei taking 46th, Vietnam 55th, the Philippines 56th, Cambodia 94th and Laos 98th.
The top three in the world were Switzerland, the US and Singapore.
The study used 70% survey data from the UN and 30% data from 137 countries. It tracked the performance of 137 countries on 12 pillars of competitiveness via the Global Competitiveness Index.
The 12 pillars considered were institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.
Deputy Prime Min
ister Somkid Jatusripitak said thanks to the government's continued economic reform efforts over the past two years, Thailand is seeing improvement in many areas such as the ease of doing business, the development of the Eastern Economic Corridor, digital economy development, and social and economic reform -- all of which have received good cooperation from the private sector.
"We have to move ahead with the reforms in order to achieve a better ranking next year, especially in weaker areas such as digital development and education, while the Thai private sector also needs to change its business model to become more digitised and use more artificial intelligence," Mr Somkid said.
He said within two months various state agencies are required to report on improvements in their use of digital systems to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Digital improvement among state agencies will play an important role in the ease of doing business, Mr Somkid said.
"The government's economic management in the past two years has started yielding fruit, as indicated by the country's economic growth of 3.7% in the second quarter this year, the fastest pace in more than four years," Mr Somkid said. "The economic performance in the third quarter is believed to have fared better than in the second quarter, thanks to the government's accelerated expenditure, higher investment, growing exports and robust tourism."
Suriyon Thunkijjanukij, director of competitiveness development at the National Economic and Social Development Board, said the areas in which Thailand still needs to improve include infrastructure development, ease of doing business and investment.
"Thailand has improved a lot in ease of doing business, with starting a business taking about 25.5 days this year, up from 27.5 days in 2016," Mr Suriyon said.
"The government aims at reducing the time to start a business to just 2-5 days next year."
He said the issues that still plague Thailand include education, especially at the primary level.
Mr Suriyon said to secure a better ranking next year, Thailand needs to urgently accelerate the Industry 4.0 initiative, which focuses on added value, high technology, innovation, societal reforms and legal amendments.