PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha has urged policymakers and entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia to develop and nurture a digital trade ecosystem as information technology in the region takes off.
Delivering the keynote speech on the topic of “CLMVT Taking-Off Through Technology”, Prayut praised the region’s status as a popular destination for investment and trade. He pointed to the “Look East” policy of the western world and India, along with the “Look South” approach of China, Japan and South Korea.
The immediate challenge for the CLMVT (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand) countries, said Prayut, was to figure out how to utilise new technologies to further share prosperity among the people.
Prayut was addressing the CLMVT Forum 2018 hosted by Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce.
He said that from now on, capacity building for entrepreneurial development must focus on preparation for the new economy and should be provided to all CLMVT entrepreneurs. “A region-wide digital trade ecosystem for CLMVT should be developed and nurtured. This includes the region’s own e-commerce platforms, efficient cross-border transport and logistics, payment systems as well as common standards and interoperability,” he said.
Commerce Minister Sontirat Somtijirawong pointed to the region’s high rate of economic growth and adoption of information technology. The average GDP growth rate of the five countries was 6.28 per cent last year, he said, and there were an estimated 150 million Internet users or 61 per cent of the total population. There were about 120.5 million Facebook accounts in the region. As well, online shopping has been growing rapidly, with Thailand and Vietnam together boasting about 47 million online shoppers, said Sontirat. Each shopper spent $109 (Bt3,620) last year via e-commerce channels, a 10-14 per cent increase from 2016. Online purchases reached $5.1 billion, up 20-22 per cent up from the previous year.
Asked what actions policymakers in the five countries would together pursue to promote a digital economy, Sontirat said the Commerce Ministry will gather information from the two-day forum for future consideration.
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