Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin says he wants assistance from the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) to draft measures to cope with the drought that threatens to affect agriculture and factories next year, especially those located in the Eastern Economic Corridor.
Better water management is listed in an eight-point proposal the federation presented to Mr Srettha on Friday during talks on ways to strengthen the country’s industries.
The premier is concerned about the prospects of drought caused by El Niño weather patterns and climate change, which could deal a blow to investment and the country’s economic development, FTI chairman Kriengkrai Thiennukul said after the meeting.
If farmland faces a severe scarcity of water, agribusiness, and particularly food processing factories, would bear the brunt, with an impact also anticipated in terms of food exports, said Mr Kriengkrai.
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry earlier expressed concern over El Niño which is expected to start causing an impact from next month.
El Niño is a cyclical phenomenon that causes ocean warming in the tropical Pacific, bringing drought to many countries and rainfall and flooding to others.
Mr Srettha asked the FTI to draft action plans for the eight-point proposal, covering solutions for the short, medium and long term.
The prime minister, who is also the finance minister, also wants to know what kind of government support businesses need the most.
Mr Kriengkrai expects the action plans to be finished next week and ready to be submitted to Mr Srettha.
The eight-point proposal is aimed at improving Thailand’s competitiveness, driving the country’s GDP growth to 5% a year as well as coping with global warming through the utilisation of bio-, circular and green (BCG) economic development.
Declared a national agenda item by the Prayut Chan-o-cha government, BCG encourages manufacturers to adopt technologies that can add value to their products and minimise the environmental impact at the same time.
The proposal also asks the government to support the development of S-curve industries, including electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing.
According to the FTI, Mr Srettha is aware of a need to adopt electric mobility technology, but he is also concerned about the impact on firms involved in internal combustion engine (ICE)-related businesses.
“The prime minister said the authorities need to help ICE businesses which hire more than 600,000 workers. Japan, which invests in ICE technology, is also Thailand’s old friend, helping the country develop the auto industry for decades,” said Mr Kriengkrai.