The Board of Trade will propose to the government that it alter its immigration policy to encourage more inflows of foreign talent to Thailand.
Speaking on the topic of enhancing national competitiveness, Board of Trade chairman Isara Vongkusolkit told a
seminar yesterday about the idea.
"The immigration policy must be changed. Now we let poorly educated [foreign migrants] come in everywhere, while we deter well-educated [foreign] people," he said.
Citing the case of the United States, which has benefited from foreign talents, Isara said the Thai government should also provide incentives for good-quality educational institutes from the US, Japan, Europe and China to establish campuses here, either competing with Thai universities or joining with them.
Furthermore, the government should try to attract young foreign talents to come in and help develop the Thai economy, he said.
Isara said the Board of Trade and other institutions such as Keidanren, a Japanese business federation, shared the view that the new era would be driven by young entrepreneurs.
And instead of developing traditional small and medium-sized enterprises with limited growth potential, Thailand should aim to develop innovation-driven enterprises (IDE) that having a chance to grow strongly.
To prepare for the establishment of an IDE development centre here, Isara said a "Thailand Team" led by academics from the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce would visit the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US this October.
"We can’t just think about SMEs. SMEs can only grow in their [particular] areas. They can’t make a leap. In the next era, we have to make leaps," he said.
Deputy Transport Minister Arkham Termpittayapaisith said the country’s strategies included to extending its industrial clusters to become the product design and research and development centres for the region, supported by parts manufactured in neighbouring countries. It also has to consider drawing in new industry clusters that possess good potential.
"For example, new car models have been developed at the parent firms, such as in Tokyo. [It would be good] if we could draw them in to develop their prototypes and conduct R&D here," he said.
Prasarn Trairatvorakul, governor of the Bank of Thailand, said the country should keep trying to reform its economy and not give in to short-term measures that are easy to execute, but do not cure structural problems.
"Asking for a depreciated baht so [exporters] can lower their product prices … that is a short-term painkiller," he said.
Tevin Vongvanich, chief executive of PTT Exploration and Production, said the Thai economy had entered a maturity stage and thus needed new growth drivers to get out of the "middle-income trap".