Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mingkwan to foster labour skills


Newly appointed Industry Minister Mingkwan Sangsuwan kicked off his first day in office with a series of measures planned to promote local industries.

But before introducing new measures, Mr Mingkwan plans to meet with the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) and senior officials in the ministry for detailed briefings on each industry's situation.

''When I hear more details from the public and private sectors of each industry I will see how and what I can do to assist them,'' Mr Mingkwan said.

He has already prepared initiatives to convey his priorities because he was formerly Commerce Minister and aims to adapt some measures for the steel, jewellery and fashion industries.

Skilled cheap labour will be the key driver for Thailand to attract leading foreign investors in each segment to shift their manufacturing here, he said.

''Labour zoning will be one of the measures to support this possibility,'' Mr Mingkwan boasted. ''My opportunities to meet with foreign counterparts in the World Trade Organisation talks at the Doha round on behalf of the commerce minister ignited many possibilities to improve the industrial sector.''

Discussing former policies, he insisted Thailand Investment Year 2008-2009 would be pursued with a target of investment applications of 600 billion baht.

Without giving details, he said he was looking to attract more foreign investment, especially from Korea, Japan and China. He believes Korea and Japan are seeking to relocate their operations to cheaper-labour countries.

However, he remains reluctant to specify whether his administration will support the promotion of E85 fuel, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% petrol.

''I need more time. I need to hear details from all players before making my decision. But you can count on me that I will not make an ambiguous answer, my answer will be black or white,'' Mr Mingkwan said.

His stance on E85 is being closely monitored due to his previous career as a senior executive with the Japanese automaker Toyota.

Japanese automobile makers are not supporting the Energy Ministry's E85 policy as they do not yet have any E85-compatible cars available while the imports of E85 vehicles from Europe will affect their vehicle sales.

Mr Mingkwan says he hopes he is given time in office to create policies that will improve each industry.

''Just like rice, which enjoyed high prices while I was the commerce minister, I will try to improve sugarcane prices, but only if I have sufficient time as industry minister,'' he said.

It is expected that Mr Mingkwan, a seasoned marketer, will use public relations as a key strategy to promote Thailand's competitiveness and attractiveness.

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