Thailand must shift development towards innovation and creativity and away from production to cope with rising regional competition, says Siam Cement Group president and chief executive Kan Trakulhoon.
"Thailand has invested only 0.2% of gross domestic product in research and development for 40 years now with no progress," Mr Kan said at yesterday's seminar on Thai development presented by the National Economic and Social Development Board.
The government has set a target for R&D investment at 2% of GDP by 2021, and Mr Kan said the country should respond aggressively to meet that goal.
Once the Asean Economic Community emerges in late 2015, cross-border trade will rise and competition will intensify.
Mr Kan said the private sector should be proactive in investing outside the country instead of being defensive at home. SCG has been investing abroad and 15% of its assets are overseas.Narongchai Akrasanee, chairman of MFC Asset Management, said the hardest part of country development is learning to be driven by knowledge instead of labour forces.
He suggested Thailand build closer ties with the Greater Mekong Subregion, including southern China, by cooperating on production and marketing.
In terms of the other Asean nations, Thailand must improve competitiveness to be on a par with them.
"First of all, we have to know our strengths and weaknesses; there are some areas where we can't battle them but there are some where we have the upper hand. We have to admit that we can't do everything," said Mr Narongchai.
"Once we know what we are good for, we put effort into that area to make sure we are the best."
About the author
- Writer: Wichit Chantanusornsiri
Position: Business Reporter