Thai-Japan SME cooperation strong

Thai-Japan SME cooperation strong

Thailand and Japan plan to maintain their industrial cooperation for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) after Thailand has attracted 70 billion baht from 500 Japanese SMEs over the last decade.

The investment value came in the form of joint ventures with Thai companies. The Thai Industry Ministry and Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry agreed on SME cooperation in October 2009.

Yesterday the ministries celebrated the 10-year anniversary, presided over by Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, Japanese Ambassador Shiro Sadoshima, Atsushi Taketani, president of the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) Bangkok, and Atsushi Toyonaga, chief executive of the Organization for SME and Regional Innovation of Japan.

Mr Suriya said SMEs look to Thailand for expansion in innovation and high technology, as well as becoming a springboard for Southeast Asia.

"Thailand and Japan have a long diplomatic relationship of 130 years and they have carried out many cooperation projects to support SMEs," he said.

From 2009-19, Thailand and Japan expanded their cooperation on many levels -- governments, local authorities and private companies signed 32 agreements with 29 agencies. The agreements included 21 prefectures in Japan.

Mr Suriya said Japan will continue direct investments in Thailand, with plans to carry out new cooperation projects to support SMEs from both countries.

"The Japanese government is bringing 300 Japanese SMEs to visit Thailand and consider investment and business matching schemes with local investors," he said.

Mr Suriya said Japanese investors are concerned about labour shortages and wage hike issues in Thailand that are expected to become more serious in the future.

"The ministry has promised Japanese investors resolutions to these issues to maintain the country's competitiveness for their companies," he said.

"The government understands their concerns and encourages many companies to invest in the adoption of technology and automation."

Concerning wage hikes, Mr Suriya said it is not an appropriate time for the country to increase labour costs for operators.

Japan is the largest investor in Thailand, with Jetro Bangkok reporting there are 5,244 companies from Japan here, up by 40% from 3,844 before the cooperation started in 2009.

The number of Japanese SMEs has increased by 80% to 1,859 companies.

Japanese companies are calling for the government to facilitate faster customs clearance to support border trade with neighbouring countries.

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