Reforms required to attract investors
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Reforms required to attract investors

Thailand needs to address structural challenges and be more open and transparent in order to increase productivity, competitiveness and attractiveness to seize opportunities amid the current trade-tech war between China and the US.

The tech war between the US and China has brought more opportunities to Thailand as a strong location for production in the global supply chain as the US and China decouple from each other, said Dhanawat Suthumpun, managing director of Microsoft Thailand, under the topic "Inclusive Green Growth Transition" in a seminar on Monday entitled "Transitioning Thailand: Coping with the Future", hosted by the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC).

In relation to Microsoft's Surface notebooks, which are currrently made in China, the firm is expanding production of this product to Thailand, Mr Dhanawat said.

Mr Dhanawat said Thailand needs to be neutral in terms of technology and geopolitical conflicts between the US and China.

He said there were three things that Thailand should consider when adopting technologies. The first is it should adopt open technologies.

"We're talking about open source, open data, open artificial intelligence [AI] and open architecture," said Mr Dhanawat.

Second, it should select trusted technology otherwise it will face issues regarding cybersecurity. Third, it should leverage technologies that will enable Thailand to transform itself into a maker of technologies, rather than only being a user of technologies.

Mr Dhanawat said Thailand can go beyond digital transformation to AI transformation by embracing AI and generative AI to increase opportunities to transform the country. The country needs data quality, governance, fairness and responsibility in order to avoid the negative use of AI.

"Technologies should be embraced in every sector and also in the country's social and economic development plan", said Mr Dhanawat.

The widespread use of cloud computing and generative AI can help promote equal technology access, he added.

Santitarn Sathirathai, former managing director of SEA Group, said global investors see the Asean region as a starting point, attractive as a geopolitical location due to its 100 million new digital users, a young population with an average age of 30, and rapid technology development and sustainability in forests and alternative energy.

However, Thailand is still not a top choice when compared to Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam.

"We see a signal that investors are putting more interest in Thailand as a form of diversification away from Indonesia and Vietnam," said Mr Santitarn.

Thailand needs to adjust itself to be more nimble, open, agile and adaptable, and with more ease of doing business, he said.

Mr Santitarn said Thailand's economic transformation can grow sustainably and can attract investment in green and digital technologies. The green economy can be a new engine of growth by embedding the green concept in the tourism industry.

Digital technology can bring small and medium-sized enterprises that have green products to find new markets, he said.

Veerathai Santiprabhob, former governor of the Bank of Thailand, said the country needs to address structural challenges, lower productivity when compared to other countries, the inefficiency of public and state enterprises, a lack of readiness for an ageing society and climate change, and the impact of geopolitical conflicts.

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