Thailand's national trade strategy should focus on four target industries -- processed agricultural products and food; healthcare and wellness; biotechnology; and digital technology -- says a policy chief.
Such an emphasis will allow Thailand to keep abreast of changing technology trends amid ageing demographics, said Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit, director-general of Trade Policy and Strategy Office.
Mr Phusit said the office is conducting online public hearings with all stakeholders, including the government, the private sector and the public for the country's first national trade strategy plan spanning from 2021 to 2025. The plan is designed to cope with the Covid-19 crisis and build up the country's economic recovery.
A draft five-year trade strategic plan is expected to be finalised by the end of this month, he said.
"As Thailand faces increasing challenges from becoming an ageing society and the impact from the Covid-19 crisis, four target industries still provide an immense opportunity for the country to benefit," said Mr Phusit.
The Commerce Ministry's trade strategy is expected to align with the government's 20-year strategy to drive economic growth based on 12 S-curve industries, he said.
The 12 S-curve industries are: cars; smart electronics; medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; medical services; defence; and educational development.
According to Mr Phusit, once the national trade strategy plan is introduced, it will help Thailand have a clear direction in national trade development and promotion.
Thailand's strengths in the processed agriculture and food industries can help the economy overcome the Covid-19 crisis, he said.
"Thailand is an important agricultural production base in the world given its plentiful raw materials. The country is recognised for its quality and standards of food production, which can serve all consumer groups in the global market," said Mr Phusit.
He said Thailand is also famous for health-related services such as healthcare and the treatment of illnesses, beauty services, spas and elderly care. Hence, the country needs to have a clear strategic plan to enable it to stand out in healthcare services, particularly after the pandemic.
Although the biotechnology industry is new to Thailand, it is a growing field the government desperately needs to focus on to drive the bio-, circular and green economy, said Mr Phusit. This strategic plan will provide a direction for biotech policy, environmental protection in relation to agricultural and food production, and pharmaceuticals, he said.
Mr Phusit said the digital industry provides a foundation for the country's development, especially the Thailand 4.0 scheme. Technology is used in e-commerce, the Internet of Things, digital content and cloud computing.