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Thai delegates including APO Alternate Director and NPO Head for Thailand Suwanchai Lohawatanakul (5th R), OSMEP Director General Dr. Veerapong Malai (4th R), FTPI Board of Directors Dr. Sarote Promprapha (4th L), with APO Secretary-General Dr. Indra (5th L) and Secretariat officers.
Sixteen delegates from Thailand, including APO Alternate Director and NPO Head for Thailand and FTPI President Suwanchai Lohawatanakul; Director General, Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (OSMEP), and mission leader Dr. Veerapong Malai; and FTPI Board of Directors Dr. Sarote Promprapha, visited the APO Secretariat on 28 August. The delegation was in Tokyo for an Exclusive Study Mission on the World’s Leading Japanese Firms for Service Excellence and Smart Innovation, organized by the FTPI and OSMEP. The mission studied customer service and innovation strategies employed by leading Japanese firms.
Part of the mission’s agenda was a visit to the APO Secretariat to understand its key roles and diverse initiatives in enhancing productivity and innovation in the service sector. APO Secretary-General Dr. Indra Pradana Singawinata warmly welcomed the delegates. He emphasized that the study mission’s focus on “service excellence” and “smart innovation” were key factors for productivity improvement and aligned with the APO’s vision of “Inclusive, innovation-led productivity growth in the Asia-Pacific region.” He thanked Dr. Promprapha for initiating the visit to the Secretariat after his courtesy call in November 2022 and congratulated APO Alternate Director and NPO Head Lohawatanakul on his new position as FTPI President.
(L–R) OSMEP Director General Dr. Malai, Secretary-General Dr. Indra, APO Alternate Director and FTPI Head Lohawatanakul, and FTPI Board of Directors Dr. Promprapha.
APO Alternate Director Lohawatanakul expressed gratitude for the warm reception and underlined that the mission’s objectives were to learn about Japanese firms’ strategies in service and innovation. He also highlighted the significance of the APO’s role in fostering productivity growth in the region through collaborations and knowledge sharing.
The mission leader, OSMEP Director General Dr. Malai, provided insights into Thailand’s initiatives to support SMEs, such as the Business Development Service (BDS) platform for improving SME performance. He noted that among the delegates were two winners of the 15th SME National Award and MSME Provincial Champion Award, along with representatives from the private sector and academia. Dr. Malai was optimistic about future collaborations with the APO in promoting productivity and innovation to enhance the competitiveness of SME entrepreneurs.
The APO Secretariat presented an overview of the organization and its initiatives and services, which the FTPI, OSMEP, and delegates were encouraged to take advantage of. Discussions covered the postpandemic recovery of SMEs in APO members, unique challenges faced in Thailand, the growing importance of sustainability, and approaches taken by the FTPI and Thai government. The discussions helped pave the way for a stronger alliance between Thailand and the APO, promising a brighter future for productivity in the region.
On behalf of the delegation, Dr. Promprapha concluded by expressing gratitude to Secretary-General Dr. Indra and the APO Secretariat for hosting the meeting. He emphasized the significance of visiting the Secretariat in achieving the objectives of the study mission and looked forward to more productive collaborations with the APO.
Recipients of the 15th SME National Award and MSME Provincial Champion Award (standing).