FTI, BoT support SMEs' overseas ambitions
50 select companies to enjoy spotlight
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) and the Bank of Thailand have agreed to launch new measures for Thai small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to encourage them to expand overseas.
The two parties will select 50 competitive companies from five industrial sectors: auto parts, rubber, food and processed food, home appliances and electronics, and furniture.
The firms have to be capable of developing a foothold in other countries.
Kriangkrai Tiannukul, vice-chairman of the FTI, said the measure is a pilot project to support Thai SMEs in overseas investment aspects such as finance, marketing and regulation.
"We have to listen to the problems they face in doing business in other markets," he said. "The FTI and central bank will work together to support SMEs and provide knowledge on how to use financial management and enter targeted markets overseas."
Mr Kriangkrai said the 50 selected companies have to increase their export value every year under measures for the scheme. The two parties plan to extend the SME project to let new companies participate in the future.
Many companies are hindered from international expansion because of difficulties obtaining loans from commercial banks.
"The Bank of Thailand plans to talk with Thai banks about special financial measures to support SMEs' overseas business," Mr Kriangkrai said. "Local SMEs want to access loans with a low interest rate, but commercial banks have many restrictions that make SMEs give up their overseas plans."
The government has a policy to support SMEs in line with the Thailand 4.0 initiative, as these businesses are such a large group and are expected to push forward the country's GDP.
Mr Kriangkrai said local SMEs are suffering from the strong baht as their competitiveness erodes in comparison with large companies.
"SMEs need a lot of support from the government, including related agencies," he said. "The FTI has told the government that the baht's appreciation needs to be solved with measures from the government and the central bank, otherwise many SMEs wil have to quit their business."
He said the FTI has high hopes that the central bank has acknowledged the currency problem, and he expects the central bank to issue new measures to help SMEs.