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Plan to shepherd 600,000 SMEs into e-commerce next year

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripiak wants more small and medium-sized enterprises to be brought into the government's measures for better accessibility of the e-commerce platform. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Roughly 600,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be brought into the government's measures for better accessibility of the e-commerce platform in 2019 in a bid to increase their competitiveness in the global market, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

The e-commerce platform can be a strong distribution channel for SMEs and startups to market their products and services, as well as expand their business presence worldwide.

Mr Somkid said the government wants to support SMEs in doing their business through online marketing channels in line with global trends and the goal of digital transformation.

"Future trade will shift from conventional distribution to e-commerce channels, and Thai SMEs and startups should adjust to the digital era for survival," he said. "For example, courier service Kerry Express has increased its volume of transport to 1 million products daily from 70,000-80,000 products just a couple of years ago."

The government's Thailand 4.0 initiative is expected to drive the economy forward and improve SME efficiency.

Mr Somkid, Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana and Deputy Industry Minister Somchai Harnhirun yesterday visited the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank (SME Bank) to deliver the government's policy for SMEs and startups.

Mr Somkid said the government ordered the Industry Ministry to ask for cooperation from consumer goods manufacturers in Thailand to support and assist local retail shops by offering cheaper wholesale prices on products from their factories.

"The next step is to bring those small retail shops into the online platform and compete with modern trade, so this solution will upgrade retail shops across the country," Mr Somkid said.

Mr Uttama said the ministry and related departments have conclude a New Year's package for SMEs and startups.

"The package will be proposed to the mobile cabinet to acknowledge and approve on Dec 13 in Nong Khai province," he said.

Last month, the ministry announced a New Year's financial package that is tentatively set to provide SMEs and startups with loans of 50,000 to 1 million baht at an interest rate of 4% per month.

In addition, the ministry will propose two additional New Year's package for SMEs and mini SMEs under the Pracha Rat scheme to the cabinet on Dec 18.

The first Pracha Rat project, worth 10 billion baht, is to strengthen local trade and small grocery stores, aiming to support 10,000 SMEs with loans of 1 million to 5 million baht.

The second project is the scheme for small startups worth 1.8 billion baht, aiming to support 30,000 mini SMEs with the loans of up to 100,000 baht per company with zero interest and collateral.

Mr Uttama said the ministry scrapped the factory licence renewal requirement under Section 15 of the Factory Act of 1992, which requires that factories renew their licence, also known as Ror Ngor 4, every five years.

Category 3 factory operators were required to obtain the Ror Ngor 4 permit from the Industrial Works Department before starting operations and renew the licence before expiry.

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