Prayut sets out Apec vision


Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and other leaders pose during the family photo session at the Apec summit in Danang, Vietnam, on Saturday. (AP photo)


Thailand is gearing up to prepare manpower with the skills to meet the challenges of the digital age through high-quality education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Vietnam yesterday.

Gen Prayut attended the Apec leaders' first retreat session with the topic "Innovative Growth, Inclusion and Sustainable Employment in the Digital Age".

He put forward proposals for Apec leaders to lay the foundation for inclusive and sustainable growth, according to deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak.

Gen Prayut believes human capital development is a key strategy for all Apec countries, which is consistent with Apec's framework on human resources development in the digital age.

The PM said Thailand has given priority to developing the skills of human resources to meet the challenges of the digital age.

He said efforts are being made to prepare Thai people with strong STEM skills to become problem solvers who can tackle pressing challenges, becoming innovators in their work and daily lives.

Gen Prayut said Thailand has attached a great deal of importance in preparing labour for the digital age to help them compete globally by improving education curriculums and learning processes at all educational institutes, and integrating all state education resources so as to respond to the demand of labour markets.

The government has come up with various measures to support the growth of new startups and new entrepreneurs over the past two years, he said.

Gen Prayut stressed the importance of food security, saying Asia-Pacific is the world's major food producer and it will be appropriate for the region to support the agricultural sector to adapt to the digital age and boost global food security.

He said Thailand has encouraged farmers to adopt the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's sufficiency economy principles with the help of high technology to transform and reorient agricultural systems towards smart agriculture and connect with the global market and deal with the impact of climate change.

Gen Prayut urged Apec countries to promote green business that is environmentally friendly and encourage micro small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to adopt green technology and innovations.

It is important to increase the competitiveness of MSMEs and involve them in production networks and global value chains of larger companies in the region so that they will form a solid foundation for Apec's sustainable growth, he said.

He also stressed the need to contribute to efforts to make Apec a low-carbon region and generate employment in the growing green industries.

Gen Prayut also said Thailand and Peru have worked together to push Apec's strategy for green, sustainable and innovative MSMEs, and Apec leaders are expected to endorse it this year.

During a talk with Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Saturday, Gen Prayut discussed bilateral cooperation and the joint cabinet meeting between the countries to solve the problem of trade barriers as well as the problems of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and illegal workers, according to a Government House spokesman.

Gen Prayut told his Vietnamese counterpart that friendship and mutual trust will make the cooperation successful.

Gen Prayut had a meeting with Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam on Friday. He said he was happy that Hong Kong had announced it would establish a Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in Thailand and said the government was ready to facilitate the move.

Both economies hope that setting up the HKETO and the previous visits by the chief of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Hong Kong business people earlier this year would promote cooperation and trade between Hong Kong and Thailand, Lt Gen Werachon said.

He added that Hong Kong has shown interest in encouraging its investors to invest in Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor as well as cooperation in tourism and fashion businesses.

Gen Prayut and Ms Lam met in August in Thailand.

On the sidelines of the Apec leaders' meeting, Commerce Minister Apiradee Tantraporn met with Canadian Minister of International Commerce Francois-Philippe Champagne.

Thailand asked Canada to expedite considering its call for the country to reduce the required temperature of cooked chicken meat from Thailand from 80 degrees Celsius to 70-72 degrees given that Thailand is free from bird flu.

Canada imports Thai chicken worth US$30.3 million each year, about 20% of its chicken imports. Rice, shrimp and chicken are among Thailand's major exports.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai has had meetings over the past week with his counterparts from Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea as well as the deputy secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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