Remarks by Dr. Sarasin Viraphol, EVP Charoen Pokphand Group, at the Conference Dinner of the 2012 Australia- Thailand Business Conference, on 12 November 2012 at the St. Regis Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand.

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Remarks by Dr
. Sarasin
Viraphol
, EVP Charoen Pokphand
Group, at the Conference Dinner of the 2012 Australia
-
Thailand Business Conference, on 12 November 2012 at
the St. Regis Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand.


1


Thailand, a middle
-
income nation in Southeast
Asia, has developed by relying on foreign trade,
investment, tourism, and other commercial
relations with nations near and far. Thailand has
benefitted from its
geopolitical position in
an
Asian sub
-
region straddling vital lines of
communication, proximity to major centers of
civilization and powers. Thai people are
accustomed to interacting with other
peoples.
Thai external policies are
pragmatic
and
inclusive. Thailand

benefits from the
sub
-
region's natural endowment and human
resources.


2


Thai leaders in the past have
displayed a true
vision to form ASEAN.
The Southeast
Asian nations
are where they are today, free of major political
strife and poised to benefit from future growth and
stability,
because of ASEAN. Because of ASEAN,
their voices are heard and respected on the
international stage. The development towards the
creation of the ASEAN Community, particularly with
the much heralded
ASEAN
E
conomic
C
ommunity
or
AEC, signifies

the
grouping’s collective economic
and
political strengths. In turn, it adds to
the
stability
,
credibility and developmental
potential
of
individual member
states.




3


In this context, it is welcoming to see a long
-
time and long
-
term partner such as Australia
reiterate its vision and commitment to Asia
through the issuance of the White Paper entitled
"Australia in the Asian Century" by PM Julia
Gillard on 28 October. It mirrors a similar need
by Thailand's political leadership to engage in a
similar exercise in articulating the country's
future positioning with regards its international
trade and investment particularly in preparing its
citizenry, bureaucracy and
corporates

to take up
the global challenge through facilitation,
innovation, capacity building.


4


It should be pointed out that the Australian
-
Thai partnership
in trade and investment is rather visible in such areas as
logistics and supply chain, aviation and tourism, banking and
finance, education, environmental management, energy,
automotive manufacturing, and
agri
-
foods and agro industry.
With the introduction of the ASEAN Economic Community or
AEC which widens ASEAN's trade and investment in goods
and services and the movement of people including business
persons and tourists, Thailand has a unique potential to
become
a regional
transport and logistic hub, a regional
manufacturing powerhouse, and a world
-
class multi
-
purpose
tourist destination

medical, shopping, entertainment, and
other life
-
style services
.

5


The country's air, land, water borne transport and IT
communications networks, supported by advanced
logistical systems, a trained and proficient workforce,
and a transparent legal and tax regime must provide the
backbone of such undertakings. Thailand's river
transport, coastal shipping to connect Southeast Asia
with neighboring South Asian countries and China, not
to mention
subregional

overland and aviation links are
ripe for development. Over the decades, Thailand has
seen development taking place in a few major urban
centers. Increased regional connectivity and openness
and the growing interaction among previously closed
neighboring countries means renewed development
opportunities across the expanse of the country that
translates into sustainable growth in trade and
investment beyond common borders.

6



Yet
, Thailand is facing the challenge of
transforming itself
from its current
middle
income status to being a
higher income
economy.
For
this reason,
Thailand
must
enhance
its developmental
capability

through trade, investment in an international
environment that is more fast changing,
competitive and knowledge
-
based
.

In reaching
for new heights in Thailand's economic
transformation, the country must strive to address
the following developmental issues:


7


1. Transforming the traditional "producer
-
exporter" model of growth to a "producer
-
consumer
-
exporter" model of growth. This
would allow the benefits of investments in
capital, technology and markets to be passed
on to domestic consumption, ease the
mounting rural urban diversity,
enable
the
middle class, and provide renewed capacity
for trade and investment in the agriculture,
manufacturing and service sectors.


8

2. Strengthening the country's macroeconomic
management through the open trading system
and

necessary infrastructure support
including an educated, innovative workforce
with entrepreneurial skills and a culture of
excellence. Thailand must maintain its free
trading regime for its own and ASEAN region's
capacity to remain competitive and attract
oversea trade and investment in capital,
technology, and human resource and
infrastructure capacity building.


9

10

3. Tackling the issue of national governance in
the promotion of sustainable economic
development, namely stemming corruption.
One major factor of Thailand's "middle
-
income
trap" is institutionalized corruption. To this
end, Thailand, as a self
-
proclaimed
democracy, needs to further strengthen the
independence of its legislative and judiciary
functions.

4. Developing
credible political leadership to
steer
Thailand in the global setting is a sine qua
non.
With enlightened and farsighted
leadership, Thailand
since the long
-
past era of
colonialism has proven its mettle in the
international
arena. This
has helped maintained
the international perception of Thailand as a
dynamic, open, stable, credible and attractive
destination for business and pleasure
. The
country's role in the coming decade of global
transformation will be guided by capable and
enlightened political leaders.





11

12

5. Deepening and widening regional
integration by helping institutionalize
the ASEAN Community through
economic, political and social
integration, against which Thailand's
quest to transform its global status as
a developed nation will be measured.

6.
Applying
concerted efforts by the working
generations to
learn
foreign languages for
global communication particularly
English
and
Chinese.


7.
Galvanizing
the private sector. Kindle their
entrepreneurial spirit
among
the younger
generation,
strengthen
their

data and
intelligence, IT technology, capital and
finance, practical and analytical skills,
and
upgrade the efficiency productivity of the
workforce.


13


During the past decade, and for China it
is a period
of
unprecedented growth which
has catapulted China to
the position of global economic influence, the
Chinese
word for "win
-
win",
双赢

(
shuang

ying
) has won
considerable international stature as a new paradigm
for international economic engagement. In the China
-
ASEAN context, it has been symbolized by the China
-
ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, which captures the
world's biggest market of
two
billion people. Similarly,
the Thailand
-
Australia Free Trade Agreement which
came into force in 2005 is geared towards building
an
Asia
-
Pacific region with greater access to goods,
services and markets and enhancing people's
exchange



14


Additionally, as reflected in Australia's Asian
Century white paper, the common concern is about
participating in the growth of a prospering region
and consolidation of economic wealth. The
challenge for both sides is how to leverage their
respective resources in hardware, software and
peopleware

particularly for the private sector
through capacity building.


And for the couple, namely the two countries and
peoples, who have
have

maintained a sixty
-
year
relationship, and who hold the consensus on such
a win
-
win proposition, it would be inexplicable
--

or even inexcusable __to pass up such a great
opportunity.

15