Ad­dress is­sue of lack of man­power in tech­ni­cal tex­tiles sec­tor: Sm­riti Irani

FICCI Business Digest - - News - Nivedita Mukher­jee*, Joint Di­rec­tor, FICCI.

Thai­land is chang­ing fast and yet the pace seems mea­sured for a na­tion and gov­ern­ment that is anx­ious to board a higher tra­jec­tory of growth, de­vel­op­ment and trans­for­ma­tion. What one does get on en­ter­ing Bangkok on a balmy sum­mer evening, is a sense of pur­pose and am­bi­tion that has driven Thai­land from a pre­dom­i­nantly agri­cul­ture based econ­omy to an en­gine of man­u­fac­tur­ing and in­dus­trial growth pow­er­ing a USD 397.6 bil­lion strong econ­omy and ASEAN's sec­ond largest pow­er­house. Ranked sec­ond for its ease of do­ing busi­ness among East Asia's emerg­ing economies, Thai­land oc­cu­pies prime space on the radar of those look­ing for a “strate­gic lo­ca­tion gate­way to ASEAN”.

What also be­comes ap­par­ent is the eco­nomic vi­sion and high as­pi­ra­tional lev­els of a na­tion that wants to over­come the “Mid­dle In­come Trap” as we stroll through Sukhumvit, a busy busi­ness cen­tre in Bangkok lined with plush ho­tels and show­rooms hous­ing global brands across ap­par­els, jew­ellery, au­to­mo­biles, per­fumes and other life­style prod­ucts. Take a sky train to hop into an­other part of the city and the sight is fa­mil­iar if not more dazzling with the streets lined with gi­gan­tic malls and glitzy dig­i­tal dis­plays show­cas­ing Thai­land's trans­for­ma­tion and of­fer­ing in­fi­nite re­tail ther­apy for lo­cals, tourists and for­eign na­tion­als. The aroma of cooked shrimps and other seafood waft­ing across from street side food stalls and restau­rant at Tha Ma­haraj on the river front re­mind you of Thai­land's gas­tro­nomic strengths and its sta­tus as one of the top 10 food ex­porters in the world.

What re­ally gives food for thought and leaves a last­ing im­pres­sion is the sheer en­ter­prise, plan­ning and spends that have gone into the de­vel­op­ment of wide, clean roads, high­ways and mam­moth in­fra­struc­ture projects that dot the city and the vi­brantly green coun­try land­scape as we head to Ray­ong Prov­ince. This is home to op­u­lent in­dus­trial es­tates like the Hem­raj in­dus­trial es­tate, Map Ta Phut in­dus­trial es­tate and Asia in­dus­trial es­tate. Thai­land boasts of more than 70 in­dus­trial es­tates spread across all re­gions and cover­ing more than 256 mil­lion square me­ters of space, re­plete with ready built fac­to­ries, lo­gis­tics ware­houses, util­i­ties, power, prop­erty so­lu­tions for global in­dus­trial projects ca­ter­ing to a wide range of man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses.

The Eastern Seaboard In­dus­trial Re­gion stands out with two in­ter­na­tional deep-sea ports and dou­ble-track line con­nect­ing to other zones. We are treated to a glimpse of the magnificent Laem Cha­bang deep sea port as we drive around the pe­riph­ery of this port set to be the mul­ti­modal trans­port and lo­gis­tics hub of ASEAN and are re­minded of Thai­land's in­dis­putable rep­u­ta­tion as a tourism hub as we check into the pic­turesque Pat­taya, a must in the itinerary of the swish set or a travel lover. These show­pieces, we are told, are only a mi­cro­cosm of what is in the off­ing in Thai­land as it charts an ag­gres­sive three-pronged strat­egy to drive in­vest­ments – the op­er­a­tive word -- in the coun­try cut­ting across sec­tors. Thai­land, as Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha stated at the “Op­por­tu­nity Thai­land 2017” -- an in­ter­na­tional sem­i­nar or­gan­ised by BOI and chaired by the Prime Min­is­ter -- has recog­nised the sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion of for­eign in­vest­ment in driv­ing the coun­try's eco­nomic growth. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Thai­land In­vest­ment Re­view (Fe­bru­ary 2017) un­veiled by the BOI, the coun­try has re­ceived a to­tal in­vest­ment of USD 16,545.27 mil­lion in 1,546 projects in the pe­riod Jan­uary-De­cem­ber 2016 across di­ver­si­fied sec­tors. All thanks to a ded­i­cated mis­sion to im­prove the ease of do­ing busi­ness rank­ing, ef­forts to en­act sim­pler reg­u­la­tions and make nec­es­sary amend­ments in ex­ist­ing ones like the re­vised In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion Act.

The Board of In­vest­ment of Thai­land (BOI) is play­ing a cru­cial role in en­sur­ing that the strate­gies to at­tract for­eign in­vest­ments are backed by a “One Start, One Stop”, in­vest­ment cen­tre of­fer­ing com­pre­hen­sive ser­vices at one lo­ca­tion and a pack­age deal of 100 per cent for­eign own­er­ship, no local con­tent re­quire­ments, no ex­port re­quire­ments, no re­stric­tion on for­eign cur­rency, cor­po­rate in­come tax ex­emp­tion for up to 13 years, 50 per cent re­duc­tion of cor­po­rate in­come tax for up to 5 years, land own­er­ship rights and work per­mit

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