Strategies seek to boost domestic growth
The Commerce Ministry has launched six strategies to promote domestic growth and prepare Thai economic fundamentals and businesses for an integrated market under the Asean Economic Community (AEC).
The priority is to ensure a sustainable increase in domestic consumption and strong export expansion.
Commerce permanent secretary Vatchari Vimooktayon said with upcoming "seamless" trade and investment among Asean nations and the world market, the ministry will play a more important role in promoting domestic spending and ensuring people's incomes.
"Increasing people's incomes as well as trying to contain costs of living amid many negative factors in the global economy is a challenging job. The ministry will focus our strategies on ensuring strong domestic growth by promoting people's incomes, and continue measures to contain the cost of living," the permanent-secretary said.
Six strategies to be employed this year and throughout the next two years ahead of Asean integration in 2015 are as follows: First, the ministry will try to ensure stable annual inflation at between 2.8-3.4 per cent this year. To contain costs of living, the ministry will this year organise 2,513 fairs to sell cheap consumer goods. Overall, the project should help reduce costs of living for 7.39 million people worth Bt1.59 billion.
Its "Took Jai" (Satisfied) shop to sell cheap goods will also be able to reduce costs of living by Bt300-400 million a month. The ministry will also set up 600 mobile units to sell cheap goods directly to consumers in remote areas.
Second, the ministry will continue to try to boost exports by targeting growth of 8-9 per cent to an annual figure of US$247.88-$250.17 billion (Bt7.5 trillion) this year, greater than last year's expansion. Third, it will boost agriculture prices and farmers' incomes so that farmers have more spending power.
Next, it will promote Thai enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to trade and invest more in Asean countries and other potential markets, and focus on Asia's strong economic growth. A strategy to promote Thai enterprises to become international traders and investors will assure Thai enterprises' competitiveness amid liberalisation. The ministry now has 71 offices nationwide and eight offices in central areas and overseas to give out information and consult with Thai enterprises about doing business abroad.
Fifth, it will promote SMEs by providing more financial support under the SMEs fund - from Bt15 million last year to Bt300 million this year. The ministry also encourages SMEs to source raw materials in other Asean countries and match Thai businesses with foreign operators in a bid to expand overseas. Finally, it will continue promoting handicrafts and OTOP (One Tambon, One Product) goods for international trade, as a strategy to increase the value of Thai products and support local enterprises.