20,000 SMEs targeted for online operations in 2019

20,000 SMEs targeted for online operations in 2019

The Industrial Promotion Department wants 20,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups to operate their businesses online in 2019.

The new target is a marked increase from the previous goal of 5,000 companies as the department has a duty to encourage SMEs and startups to embrace e-commerce.

The SMEs and startups span many sectors, and are most common in logistics, consumer products and agricultural products.

Kobchai Sungsitthisawad, director-general of the department, said the government has a policy to promote SMEs expanding overseas via e-commerce.

"SMEs and startups can avoid digital disruption if they adjust and go online," he said. "The department's mission is to prepare a training programme for human resources and provide the business know-how to support local SMEs and startups."

On Wednesday, the department completed a collaboration with China's e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group with four memorandums of understanding for a smart digital hub and digital transformation strategic partnership in the Eastern Economic Corridor.

Initial agreements were signed in April when Jack Ma, Alibaba's founder, came to Thailand.

These collaborations are aimed to create and develop local SMEs and startups as the government expects to increase their efficiencies, competitiveness and provision of higher value-added products.

"Under the agreements, Alibaba partners with the Thai government to help and develop SMEs' knowledge, innovation and suggestions," said Mr Kobchai.

"The collaborations are expected to aid the department's effort to bring 20,000 companies online next year."

He said Alibaba will help the government improve the efficiency of SMEs and startups in doing business online and expanding into the global market.

Alibaba offered the government digital and e-commerce training programmes at its business school.

This project will connect Chinese digital talent with Thai educational institutions and business operators to develop a digital and e-commerce platform here.

Zhu Jintong, director of Alibaba's International Business Data Intelligence, said Thailand has high potential for digital success because of fast growth and implementation of digital innovations and high technology.

"The Thailand 4.0 initiative is expected to push forward the country's economy and improve efficiency in the industrial sector," said Mr Zhu.

"The government is attempting to put in place a countrywide technology-driven system."

Alibaba and the Hangzhou city government announced the ET City Brain 2.0 project, a cloud-powered infrastructure project that has seen success in China and Malaysia.

"The project can help SMEs and startups to increase their efficiencies and improve their productiveness because cloud technology suits many industries in Thailand," he said.

"Alibaba aims to provide the ET City Brain 2.0 framework for Thai agriculture sector, logistics and manufacturing soon."

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