New Sandbox, EEC Industrial Area in the Digital Era…Thai Economic Driving Force of the Future
New Sandbox, EEC Industrial Area in the Digital Era…Thai Economic Driving Force of the Future
The EEC is one of the key strategic areas for Thai economic growth in the future which can connect trades in the Asian region. We can analyze this matter from the China trade route under “One Belt One Road” scheme, where the economic route of which is defined into 2 routes: i. e., the first route is to Eastern Europe and the second one to the Southeast that can connect to the EEC areas. Djitt Laowattana, Ph.D. Executive Advisor for Education, Human Capital and Technology Development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Project, said, “…..the EEC area is therefore the center of a good economic connection, in between, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam or CLMV, as well. In addition to this, Thailand possesses the strengths in 2 areas, with the first one being that it has a strong logistics system from the past wherein a great many routes in the country had been developed where the second one is that the government and private sectors have developed a lot more of the investments in the telecom pipe/pole/line infrastructure systems. It is also the first country to invest in 5G in the region….”
“…..However, over the past 35 years, our Eastern Seaboard Project made a very spectacularly successful achievement. Yet, from those days until now, we have never had any big projects at all being implemented. The Eastern Economic Corridor Project or EEC is an evident proof to indicate as to whether Thailand can speed up its GDP to step over the trap of the middle-income country or not…” Dr. Laowattana emphasizes the commitment of the EEC to lead Thailand to go forward to a stable future.
Dr. Laowattana also reveals that there have been promotion accelerations on 10 industrial groups, where the existing industry groups: such as; the electrical and electronic industries have been more modernized to being Smart Electronics, the automotive industry to being Electric Vehicles or the tourism industry that has been transformed into tourism with the understanding on the environments and health to being more valuable. I, myself, am responsible for 5 industries of the future: namely; Robotic Industry, Aircraft Parts and Logistics Industry, Biofuel and Biochemical Industry, Digital Industry and Integrated Medical Industry.
The EEC area has been managed, in terms of the investments, in the infrastructures: such as; high speed train, the 3rd National Airport (U-Tapao), ports and highways of international standards, in the amount of approximately 1.7 trillion Baht. Even though Thailand has been faced with COVID-19 situation, but, the EEC Committee, chaired by H.E. the Prime Minister, is able to push forward as planned. The EEC will, this year, focus on the acceleration and mobilization of invitations to investors in order to drive the country’s GDP to rise as abovementioned.
10 Industries + 2 Additional Industries…the Investment Expansion Driving Forces.
This year, trades and investments have begun to expand more in the EEC area. Moreover, there has been an additional support for 2 other industries: namely; the Education Industry and Defense Industry where the infrastructures of which that have been invested in before were of the digital industry. In 2020, the NBTC held the bids on 5G 3 spectrums which were 700 MHz, 2600 MHz and 26 GHz, especially, on the 2600 MHz spectrum, the licensee is required to invest in the infrastructure in the EEC area by a half of the investment. Currently, a survey has been conducted and found that the private-run companies: namely; AIS and True have already invested in full 100% in the EEC area. Thailand is considered to be the first country starting this before anyone in the CLMV group of countries, including Singapore, where the official 5G spectrum has not yet been announced. Therefore, the investment in the digital system has already taken place in the EEC area which will directly be related to the development of Industry 4.0 that necessarily requires to have the infrastructure system on this aspect to support it because of the outstanding features of 5G, i. e., having the speed of data transmission, the signal wave provides low latency and stability, including being able to connect to devices: such as; more than one million IoT sensors in one square kilometer area, etc. Therefore, this digital infrastructure is indeed the starting factor for the investment in almost every industry in this EEC area.
People – Personnel are deemed to be one of the most important matters that the invested industrial sector has required to be on top of the others. The EEC maps out a plan in collaboration with educational institutes and industrial sector to create personnel to feed the 10 S-curve industries within the next 5 years which, in this respect, more than 457,000 personnel have been projected to be produced. In this regard, a half number of the personnel will be in the infrastructure construction group and another half in the S-curve industries. If the educational qualifications should be divide
Digital Transformation Technology and the Driving of Industries in the EEC Area.
Dr. Laowattana sees the Digital Transformation Technology as a catalyst in the supply chain of Industry 4.0. If any entrepreneur should not bring such matter for use in his factory, such entrepreneur would be considered to have not caught up with the digital manufacturing industry. The Industry 4.0 transformation consists of 3 key factors: Firstly, the automation of production system which may originally be SCADA system, must be converted to more wireless IoT to increase the flexibility on the use and to get the work to continuously be carried on through 5G system; Secondly, Data Analystics system: such as; ERP system and various analytics systems to get involved and, Lastly, at the top level of the list which is the use of 26 GHz frequency to connect with the supply chain. Therefore, if any factory should not do a Digital Transformation in the supply chains, that factory may not be able keep pace with the competition because such supply chains are not in Thailand alone; they may be in foreign countries, as well. Therefore, we must mandatorily be part of the digital supply chain. Another interesting issue is that if we should look, in term of the production cost from the data on the use of Digital Manufacturing of China and Japan, we would find that the cost can be reduced by up to 38%. So, this matter is considered to be a condition on the total cost reduction through the Digital Transformation Technology as well as bringing the factory to be in the global supply chain. In the EEC area which houses more than 9,800 factories, the EEC has already, this year, planned in conjunction with BOI, to support 200 factories to enter the Smart Industry 4.0 and 5G system and will proceed on with the actions to add up the number to 80%-90% of the remaining factories within the next three years.
“In respect of the tax privileges for industrial factories desiring to invest in Digital Manufacturing, the EEC is under the process of consulting with the BOI on tax abatements. Getting help from the BOI as the issuer of the rule is extremely crucial because we will use it as the same criteria for tax abatements for industries throughout Thailand even they are located outside the EEC area if they are reachable by 5G spectrum. Therefore, the advantage in a wide range will occur to every industry all over the country, as well,” said Dr. Laowattana.
Personnel Must be Readily Available for Use.
Dr. Laowattana further continues with giving his account that, as a person in overseeing the aspect of personnel development, Thailand has many talent university professors, but, the figures found in the past 3-4 years over show that those students were unemployed because some courses of study did not match the desired industry. Therefore, there had been a consultation on brainstorming with various academics and found that the universities and the factories did not have discussions/contacts for consultations between them at all, thus, prompting the EEC to coordinate with the factories to address their need for personnel actually required for use. In this respect, Kanit Sangsubhan, Ph.D. EEC Secretary-General, has issued an order to use the needs of the factories as a basis and an initiating point which eventually bring about the key conceptual guidelines to emerge the “Demand Driven Training” system. In granting an approval on the training course, the factories will be required to present the requirements and the university will acknowledge the receipt thereof and bring the course for adjustment to be in compatibility with such needs and then further use it to produce personnel to meet the needs of the industries. The EEC has set a clear indicator of the real demands of the industrial sector.
Human resource development consists of many aspects of the component parts, i. e., 1. Must know what type of personnel are required by the entrepreneurial establishment or factory, 2. Increasing the Up Skill necessary for increasing personnel skills to reach higher expertise, 3. Adding skills from the traditionally old industry to the Re Skill: such as; the automotive industry which is converted to electric vehicles (EVs) where some parts of which say more than a half of them have disappeared. Therefore, skills of those personnel need to be added and diverted to the other industries: such as; aircraft parts, etc., 4. Adding New Skills: In this regard, the EEC has invited IT investors being the large multinational companies: such as; Huawei, HP VMware Cisco Mavenir, etc., to invest/support such Digital Transformation in the EEC area and persuaded them to jointly establish a Human Resource Development Center for new technologies: such as; Digital, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Technology, Blockchain, etc., because in Thai universities nowadays, skills in Digital Technology in applied industries are somewhat not really high. Therefore, it may be necessary to rely on foreign companies and personnel. Moreover, the EEC has organized an ecosystem for personnel to work together in all sectors in order to give rise to the Technology Transfer to the Thai educational system.