Thailand, Japan break bread

Thailand, Japan break bread

Food innovation centre opens soon

Uttama: Centre to support SME products
Uttama: Centre to support SME products

Thai and Japanese governments are expected to soon launch the Mie-Thailand Innovation Centre for the local food industry, aiming to develop and increase value of Thai products.

Japan is interested in R&D for Thai rice and will use this new centre to cooperate with the National Food Institute in Bangkok, which is located adjacent to the new centre.

Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said the opening is scheduled for Nov 14, and will be presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

"The centre is the collaboration between Thai government and the Japan External Trade Organization to support small and medium-sized enterprise [SME] products," he said.

Mr Uttama said 64 Japanese SMEs from Mie prefecture in several industries are interested in investing in Thailand, as well as in a bioeconomy project with the ministry.

"Japan is the first to apply for investment incentives to the Board of Investment [BoI], making up 80 billion baht last year, thanks to the strong diplomatic relations between the two governments," said Mr Uttama.

He said the new centre will connect with the Industry Transformation Centre, cooperating with provincial universities such as Chiang Mai University to promote the food industry.

The ministry will soon expand this project to the southern region; for example, the project will be taken to Songkhla province to promote seafood products in cooperation with Prince of Songkla University.

Mr Uttama spoke at the "Transform Thai economy to step for the future" seminar, noting the general election scheduled for February 2019 will be a moment of change for the country.

"Everyone is watching for Thailand's general election next year and it will create a new perspective of the country and transform the economy," he said.

"All sectors and stakeholders must cooperate to improve and transform the country."

Mr Uttama said in his speech to the Asean Economic Ministers Meeting in Singapore the government is committed to the infrastructure road map for new megaprojects to mobilise the country.

"For example, 5G technology has been pushed forward to create a stronger mobile network with the latest technology."

In addition, 5G can fulfil the government's 4.0 initiative, which aims to forward the country's capabilities.

"Thailand has more than original-equipment manufacturers, including technology and product owners that can together improve economic fundamentals," said Mr Uttama.

The Thai agriculture sector is the top priority for the government as this needs further strength, particularly given the poverty levels farmers face, which limits their access to new technology to overcome and solve nature disasters.

The next step for the agriculture sector is to use technology to create a market platform, improve the manufacturing process and increase product value.

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