300,000 new SMEs targeted
The government plans to increase the number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by 300,000 next year, as they are expected to play a major role in supporting the Thai economy, says Suwanchai Lohawattanakul, newly appointed director-general of the Office of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Promotion (Osmep).
The government policy is to strengthen SMEs and help them expand their business abroad, particularly in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), where the economies are growing.
"Next year Osmep is expected to help increase the number of new SMEs by 300,000 companies. The government believes SMEs will be a key factor in driving the Thai economy," he said.
To support SMEs, Mr Suwanchai said Osmep has allocated 1.22 billion baht for several projects. He said 24 out of 30 Osmep proposals have been approved by the government.
"With the rising number of SMEs, we forecast they could create up to 100,000 products next year," said Mr Suwanchai, adding the products should help create added value for the economy.
Around 500 companies were initially expected to receive support in expanding their businesses into CLMV countries by next year, tapping into the growing economies and strong demand there.
He said the SME support plan entailed increasing the proportion of SME revenue to 50% of GDP by 2022, up from 42.3%, which is equivalent to 1.62 trillion baht.
Thailand has 3 million SMEs that employ 11 million people.
Recently the government provided 38 billion baht in financing to SMEs, comprising 20 billion baht under the Pracha Rat scheme, 15 billion under the SME Loan Transformation programme and 3 billion via Osmep.
The Commerce Ministry also plans to develop a national e-commerce platform to be a major tool to support Thai micro-SMEs, particularly in rural areas, to boost local economies.
To achieve that goal, the government has joined hands with e-commerce giants to improve distribution channels and help Thai SMEs hone their skills in using e-commerce for marketing.