CP chief outlines 'quick win' strategy
Thailand must transform its agriculture sector, small and medium-sized enterprises and tech startups, capitalising on the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and partnerships to ensure competitiveness from 2020, says Suphachai Chearavanont, chief executive of Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group.
Mr Suphachai, who is also board chairman of True Corporation, called the measures a "quick win" strategy.
He was speaking at Wednesday's Thailand 2020 forum held at the Athenee Hotel in Bangkok.
Mr Suphachai said the country also needs 3- to 5-year strategies geared towards economic zoning, 5G infrastructure and innovation hub development.
The government's operational management structure should be driven by national boards designed for crucial sectors, he said. These boards should be used rather than the existing bureaucratic and top-down hierarchy of ministries.
Mr Suphachai said the national boards could cover economic zoning, food, SMEs, innovation hubs, tourism, startups and matching funds, as well as development banks.
"This national board strategy would be a new driver for digital transformation in the country," he said.
He said the approach would help prepare Thailand amid competition from other nations and potentially help turn it into an innovation hub of Asean.
Mr Suphachai said efforts must be made to help the agriculture sector reach "Kitchen of the World" status and a food tech hub, while SMEs should undergo transformation using automation and digitisation.
A proper ecosystem including funding is needed to attract talent, he said.
The EEC scheme needs big global tech firms to invest in the area to potentially turn it into Asean's 4.0 hub.
The country also needs collaborative efforts to help drive the economy, Mr Suphachai said.
Citing the World Bank, he said national GDP growth of 2.8% is expected in 2020, unchanged from the projected target this year but down from 4.1% in 2018.
Global GDP is expected to rise 2.7% in 2020, up from the expected 2.6% this year, he said, adding that the increase is likely to stem from growth in China and India -- expected at 8.1% and 7.5%, respectively.
Mr Suphachai said 5G infrastructure development is needed to help vertical industries hasten tech adoption.
5G is expected to see 75% compound annual growth during 2021-25, while the number of 5G connections worldwide will reach 2.7 billion by 2025, he said.