TDRI urges wide swath of reforms



The national think-tank TDRI yesterday advocated a broad range of reforms in law, taxation, investment policy and international trade promotion to enable Thailand to become a trading nation.

Deunden Nikomborirak, research director for economic governance at Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), said the reforms are essential if Thailand is to boost its national competitiveness and obtain trading nation status within a five-year time frame.

The first priority is to amend more than 100,000 acts that have remained unchanged for far too long, she said during a seminar.

But if the government is to succeed in tackling 300-400 acts considered impediments to trade and investment, Thailand’s ranking in the ease of doing business index could move from 46th place to 23rd in 3-5 years, said Ms Deunden.

Many manual processes involved in business registration should also be shifted online to reduce time and costs, she said.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Business Act should be improved, particularly for socalled List 3 businesses, to liberalise and spur new investment in logistics, warehouses, accounting and legal consulting services.

Other strategies are to improve trade distribution channels, while the government should support companies setting up trading firms.

Exporters should band together further and form a consortium to boost cooperation, said Ms Deunden, adding that Thai exporters have yet to exploit this form of alliance to their advantage.

She also said companies should control the quality of their goods and be aware of consumer trends and demand.

While the e-commerce channel has seen high growth and the government has set up the website, Ms Deunden said that is not enough.

The government should also compile more comprehensive data on international trade and investment, she said.

Ms Deunden said another necessary strategy is to reduce import tariffs on raw and intermediate materials to fall in line with those of neighbouring countries.

Meanwhile, Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Commerce Ministry’s Trade Policy and Strategy Bureau, said the ministry has commissioned TDRI to study and propose a trading nation strategy for trade and services.

The study will focus on Asean, entrepreneurs and trade system improvement.

The Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration at Chulalongkorn University will also carry out a study to formulate a strategy for the service, industry, and agricultural sectors.

The study is due to conclude in May and the findings will be used for the drafting of the national strategy for 2017-36.

Once the national strategy is completed, the ministry will make its proposals to the government as one component of overhauling the country’s trade system.

First published: Bangkok Post on Friday, March 17, 2017