Thomas Söllner -

Thailand pushes for Industry 4.0 in ASEAN

Nearly half of the kingdom’s deliverables as chair of ASEAN will be focused on spurring Industry 4.0 developments across the region

Thailand will make a bigger push to drive the region’s move towards Industry 4.0 during its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional grouping this year.

Speaking at the Special Session on the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Bangkok last week, Thailand’s minister of commerce, Sontirat Sotijirawong, said five out of its 12 deliverables would be focused on spurring Industry 4.0 developments across the region.

These include a regional digital integration plan that facilitates cross-border trade, an innovation roadmap and the digitisation of small enterprises, among other goals.

“New technologies are bringing down barriers, connecting us better and in new and different ways; revolutionising the nature of cross-border relations and economic interactions across ASEAN,” said Lim Jock Hoi, secretary-general of ASEAN.

During his keynote address, Sotijirawong stressed that the region’s economies and societies would have to rely on creativity, innovation and connectivity between technology and production systems to enhance competitiveness and economic growth.  

The economic growth, however, could only be achieved in a stable, sustainable and inclusive manner, with everyone in ASEAN working together in tandem, Sotijirawong reiterated.

At the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Hanoi in September 2018, Vietnam prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc noted that with Industry 4.0, ASEAN could speed past traditional phases of industrial development by adopting artificial intelligence, automation, unmanned aerial vehicles, satellites and sensor systems to improve productivity and the efficiency of resource use.

“However, the challenges that ASEAN will face are likewise enormous,” he added. “The fourth industrial revolution has the capacity to rapidly boost the incomes of citizens equipped with skills and knowledge, thus further widening the income gap and creating risks of social instability.”

Notwithstanding these challenges, the region’s manufacturing firms remain optimistic about Industry 4.0.

According to a McKinsey study, 96% of ASEAN businesses believe Industry 4.0 will bring new business models to their industries. Nine in 10 respondents said improved performance would be one of the main benefits from new technologies.

Additionally, in manufacturing-based economies such as Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, respondents were generally optimistic about prospects of Industry 4.0, with more than 70% of respondents from each country saying their view of Industry 4.0 had improved over the previous year.

“By embracing Industry 4.0, ASEAN manufacturers can become the next leaders in their fields,” McKinsey said, adding that the digital technologies associated with Industry 4.0 could help the region’s manufacturers overcome low productivity rates and regain their stature as the factories to the world.

Read more about Industry 4.0 in ASEAN

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