DigitalCFO Newsroom | 2 August 2022
NIA highlights four key magnets to attract foreign investors, pushing Thailand as a “Global Hub” for international startups and investors.
The National Innovation Agency (NIA) under the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) continues its mission to attract foreign business and investment, pushing Thailand as a global hub for international startups and investors. The mission has piloted in three areas: Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) which will make Thailand a global startup hub thanks to their potential and readiness in infrastructure, industrial foundation, and networks. The NIA reveals four key magnets that will attract foreigners to invest or do business in Thailand, supported by their resources and collaboration from the government and private sector.
Dr. Pun-Arj Chairatana, Executive Director of NIA, said, “Over the years, NIA has created global hubs for startups in three areas: Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). These areas cater to Thai and international startups and facilitate them in terms of business and investment. Foreigners who are interested in doing business in Thailand often face challenges such as opening accounts, registering their businesses, and other legal difficulties. Our Global Hub centers offer various activities and services, such as business acceleration, business, marketing, legal and intellectual property consultation, and startups’ and investors’ networks to facilitate networking and business negotiation. There are also activities to inspire them about innovation. More details can be found at https://startupthailand.org/en/home/ or https://www.facebook.com/GlobalStartupHubTH/.
The four key magnets to attract foreigners to do business or invest in Thailand are;
1) Competitive Business Costs
Thailand is a livable country and business costs are not high. Office space in prime locations in Bangkok is inexpensive compared to other major cities: 50% of the average cost of Ho Chi Minh City offices, 40% compared to Seoul and Singapore, and only 25% compared to New Delhi, Tokyo and Beijing. Although, the wages in ASEAN have increased over the years because of the economy, the wages in Thailand remain reasonable for skilled workers. The inflation rate of employment compensation in Thailand is among the lowest in ASEAN.
Thailand’s economy is the second biggest in ASEAN, with a strong consumer buying power totaling 246.11 billion US dollars. Strategically located at the center of ASEAN, Thailand has a lot of potential for business expansion, and total consumers of the 10 ASEAN countries are 661.8 million. In addition, Thailand is known for ‘Innovation for Crafted for Living’, and this has always been in the DNA of innovation in Thailand. Thailand has transformed from a culture-based country to an innovation-based country and has come up with many forms of innovation to facilitate everyday living.
2) Strong Supply Chain And Value Chain Capabilities
Thailand is a country of agricultural wealth. Ranked among the top three of ASEAN exporters, and one of the world’s biggest exporters of food products and agricultural products such as rice and natural rubber. Thailand is home to the biggest seafood company in the world, Thai Union Group, and the world’s third biggest sugar manufacturer, Mitr Phol. The Ministry of Commerce said that in 2021, Thailand’s export grew by 17.07% to 271.17 billion US dollars.
The top five categories of export are motor cars, parts and accessories, automatic data processing machine, rubber products, and precious stones and jewelry. Major export partners are the United States, mainland China, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and India. Its role in the international supply chain not only increases Thailand’s business effectiveness but also results in quality development and knowledge and technology exchange among businesses, equipping them with capabilities to compete internationally.
3) Top R&D Investments From The Private Sector
The private sector in Thailand has funds to support research and development. According to the Global Innovation Index (GII), the Thai private sector’s gross domestic expenditure on research and development was the highest for two consecutive years (2020-2021). This reflects the Thai private sector’s investment in R&D to focus on enhancing business capabilities without relying on foreign investment.
4) Intensive Startup Ecosystem Support From The Government
The government continues to support and promote the startup ecosystem. Various organizations play different roles in improving capabilities in human resources development, especially in terms of knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This will help our industries develop further. Additionally, financial support is offered to research and innovation projects. At the same time, foreigners are encouraged to come to Thailand not just to travel but to do business and invest.
Smart Visa is a special visa type that was designed by the NIA and BOI to attract highly skilled foreigners and investors, in order to create investment in fundamental activities which play an important role in driving the economy through innovation. According to the Global Startup Ecosystem Index by Startupblink, which ranks the startup ecosystems of over 1,000 cities and 100 countries, the NIA was recognized as a government agency which actively supports the startup ecosystem to attract foreign investment, reflecting the NIA’s leading role in supporting innovation on a global scale.”
Dr. Pun-Arj added, “NIA is the main agency to support the country’s strong innovation system and it is our role to form a collaboration network among various parties as focal facilitators. We will actively attract international startups and investors, with a 3-year plan focusing on four main activities: 1) Building an innovation ecosystem that supports business and investment, 2) Increasing foreign investment, 3) Building the “Innovation Thailand” brand internationally, and 4) Supporting Thai startups for international success.