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Special Events

51st Workshop Meeting
19–21 October 2010, Bangkok, Thailand

Dr. Witoon Simachokedee delivers his opening address

Opening Address
by Dr. Witoon Simachokedee,
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry
APO Director for Thailand

Honorable Mr. Ryuichiro Yamazaki, APO Secretary General; National Productivity Organization Heads; Agriculture Delegates; Excellencies; Distinguished Participants; Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon and welcome to the Workshop Meeting of Heads of NPOs. Let me first pass on my sincere gratitude to APO under the leadership of new Secretary General, Mr. Ryuichiro Yamazaki and Thailand Productivity Institute for co-organizing this important meeting. It is a great pleasure and honor for me to address the importance of productivity for our regional development.

Let’s start with the challenge of 21st century: First, our development cannot continue to use more and more natural resources to generate economic-growth. Second, it is also very clear that, as the world becomes more integrated and no longer be impeded by geographical distance, all countries face a fierce competition with each other. In this situation, efficiency and effectiveness become a very important determinant as to whether individual economy can succeed or is left behind. Again, not only a matter of quantity as the old-ways think, but also quality of output is even more important to be concerned. Third, looking toward the future, it is clear that all countries will become more and more of an aging society. This means that we have to look after elderly people. In the meantime we will be experiencing with less number in proportionate terms of those who can be in the workforce to generate income to provide for welfare for those who are indeed and those who are dependent on them. Again, this cannot be achieved and sustained, unless the country can generate a very productive workforce. Fourth, technology becomes increasingly important. The rapid technological development causes severe change to our development in which it makes goods and services quickly obsolete. Rapid changes in technology continue to shorten product life cycles and driving prices downward and improving product quality. In other words, it creates fundamental change from traditional production patterns towards a new techno- production pattern. We need to carefully manage the changes in order to ensure competitiveness and maintain sustainable growth. Fifth, with the going concerned on green revolution or global green, the world has made important advances towards sustainable environment for all. The green revolution is aimed to harmonize economic growth with environmental protection making sure that on going development can only be continued with effective uses of resources.

From all above, productivity is the prime concerned for this era for all countries as either a hindering force or an accelerating force to our development. We all know that the challenges for all governments are to create wealth and improve the quality of life of our peoples, and that we do mainly by providing socio- economic growth. The ability to create socio-economic wealth goes hand in hand with the ability to increase productivity. Therefore, all the economically advanced countries have applied productivity concept to maintain their superior position.

At the regional level, we also recognize the importance of integration and partnership toward the path to prosperity. In the case of Thailand, we are working closely with ASEAN toward ASEAN Economic Community within five years from now. Working toward a single ASEAN Economic Community, we are very mindful that there are also needs to cooperate on productivity development in parallel to improvement in physical infrastructure and connectivity.

Thailand’s socio-economic development has undergone significant changes since we entered into trade liberalization. According to data from IMD and WEF, Thailand‘s overall competitiveness performance has been in the level of moderate ranking compared with other competitive countries since 1995. One of the major criteria to measure competitiveness is productivity growth. Productivity gains are almost automatically connected with three important factors, namely capital, labor and technology.

Thailand must continue to strengthen economic competitiveness through innovation. Innovation on technology must take as a high priority for Thailand. It will transform a stagnant economy of Thailand into a dynamic one and change the future of our workforce and livings. The technology gap between Thailand and other developed countries is an urgent development issue now, due to the fact that lower technology content leads to slower productivity growth. Technology has an important role to play in capital accumulation---especially intangible assets. However, accumulation of technology capital in Thailand has not yet contributed to productivity growth due to shortage of skilled workforces resulting from ineffective education system and national workforce planning. This leads to low labor productivity.

Labor productivity is the main factor contributed to productivity growth. Labor productivity is the key driving force accountable for maintaining growth performance of any country in the world economy. Based on data from IMD (from 2002 onwards) revealed that Thai labor productivity performance has been in the stage in which the country has to actively continue for further development. The government is working on several plans that will make sure that our workforces continue to have opportunities to upgrade their skills, and provide them with the security so that when they are faced with volatility in the economy---such as unemployment because of changes through free trade agreements---they are able to pick up new skills and re-enter the labor force with confidence and still contribute to the economy. These are all very important initiatives that the Government has taken, and will continue to focus on providing our people with both security and skills, so that they have the opportunity to continue to improve upon their productivity and contribute to sustainable growth.

Globalization has changed paradigms for industrial and business development to become more specialized and value creation’s industry across economies. In this context, the Ministry of Industry is helping industrial enterprises with various programs to enhance their productivity and to enable them to benefit from global integration. Many programs are designed to improve the supporting system such as logistics, to upgrade technological skills of our workforces, to build effective management system, to raise product quality, and to increase product as well as process innovation. As a member of ASEAN Economic Community, the Ministry of Industry is planning to promote regional supply chains and alliances in sourcing, production, marketing and distribution which has been discussed and expected to become reality.

Since its establishment, the Foundation of Thailand Productivity Institute has accorded priority to assisting the country to boost up productivity in order to facilitate socio-economic growth. Through FTPI assistances, with an emphasis on promoting awareness and technical supports, many organizations are able to stay in the business and still be relevant in the fiercely competitive market. However, FTPI must not limit its mission only to the manufacturing sector. FTPI must also expand to services and agriculture sectors in order to make the next leap in productivity for the country. The approach is simple; that is to collaborate with all parties concerned both domestic and international where we could put effort together to accomplish our achievement of better standards of living for all.

Finally, I would like to thank APO and Thailand Productivity Institute for organizing this important meeting. I know many difficult decisions have to be made during the next few days due to dwindling contribution fee. I wish you successful discussions on a number of important issues. But above all, we are doing this for the well being of our people through productivity.

Thank you.