Small to medium businesses high on junta agenda

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Small to medium businesses high on junta agenda

The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Industry is suggesting there are very positive signs emerging in recent weeks for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector. According to the Office of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion (Osmep), SME exports in the first five months of this year jumped by 7.58 percent year-on-year to 758 billion baht.

At the same time, SME imports actually dropped by 18.5 percent to 865.8 billion baht as local companies sought out materials from within the domestic economy.

The military-run National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has placed SME development onto its national agenda, thereby giving further notice that the junta recognizes the importance of the sector to the well-being of the overall economy.

Currently, SMEs number around 2.76 million nationwide and they account for 97 percent of industrial operators and contribute 37 percent of GDP. This amounts to around 4.45 trillion baht. SMEs employ 11.4 million people, which equates to 80 percent of the total workforce. They make up 25 percent of Thailand’s export market and 31 percent of the imports.

The permanent secretary is quoted as claiming the outlook for the second half of this year in SME terms is looking very bright in terms of improvement in exports and the likelihood of more businesses being established.

The Thailand Industry Expo 2014 will take place late in August at Impact Muang Thong Thani and 60,00 square metres of space has been allocated for SMEs to showcase and sell their products and services.

As part of the aim of helping support SMEs, space at the expo was given free of charge by the Industry Ministry by way of its Industrial Promotion Department. As well, there would be more than 100 seminars and workshops covering a variety of fields that would take place during the expo. There will be successful entrepreneurs at the expo as well as experts in various fields, all of whom would be available to offer advice for those who are looking to expand their own businesses or improve their products and services.

The permanent secretary said he was expecting more than 1,200 entrepreneurs to exhibit at the expo and more than 200,000 visitors. Many operators will be encouraged to offer their products to visitors at lower than normal prices.

The strength of the SME sector in the Thai economy is already on the rebound with rising domestic consumption and increased spending in both the public and private sectors. As long as the political climate remains stable over the next few months before civilian government is again restored, then the outlook for SMEs should remain buoyant.