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Thailand well on the way to achieve main objectives of reconciliation, reform and electionsInterview with Ambassador Sarun Charoensuwan of Thailand in Seoul

Ambassador Sarun Charoensuwan of Thailand in Seoul stated that next year Thailand will continue to see a series of actions or steps taken in order for Thailand to achieve the two main objectives of the Roadmap for Reconciliation, Reform and Elections. Speaking at a recent interview with The Korea Post, Ambassador Charoensuwan said that they are to return to democracy and to carry out a comprehensive reform. Details of the interview follow:

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand

Question: What are the major New Year development plans of your esteemed country in the New Year in economic and political fields in the 2017?
Answer: Next year, we will continue to see a series of actions or steps taken in order for Thailand to achieve the two main objectives of the Roadmap for Reconciliation, Reform and Elections, which are to return to democracy and to carry out a comprehensive reform. The new constitution, which has passed the referendum in August 2016, is expected to receive royal assent and be in place early next near. Currently, a number of relevant Organic Acts are being drafted by the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC). If everything goes as planned, people will be able to cast their vote by the end of next year. Thailand will then return to normalcy and stability.

The government will continue to promote “Thailand 4.0” as a new economic model for pulling the country out of the middle-income trap. Future industries, namely, robotics, aviation and logistics, biofuels and biochemical, medical hub and digital, will become key to the country’s economic growth. Infrastructure development projects, including upgrading roads, railways, seaports, airports, will remain high in the government’s agenda. Some projects have just been approved by the cabinet. Some will soon be undergoing the bidding process. Some have already been under construction.
Recently, the Thai government has just rolled out its five-year plan to develop Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), a new key driver to the country’s economic growth. This project is determined to maximize the capacity the Eastern Seaboard, Thailand’s major industrial production base, and develop it into a leading economic zone and investment hub of ASEAN. It aims to integrate new infrastructure networks with existing ones, and link mode of transportation domestically and internationally. Key infrastructure development projects include a special highway linking Bangkok with Chon Buri, Pattaya, Map Ta Phut, Laem Chabang, and Nakhon Ratchasima, and a double-track railway, with the first section from Chachoengsao to Khlong Sip Kao and Kaeng Khoi, and the second section from Bangkok to Rayong. U-Tapao International Airport, Sattahip Commercial Port, Laem Chabang Port and Map Ta Phut Port will also be upgraded. The EEC, which will be implemented in three eastern provinces, namely Chon Buri, Rayong, and Chachoengsao, is set to offer benefits and privileges to facilitate and attract investors to invest in ten innovative target industries considered as the country’s new engine of growth, such as petrochemical, automotive, electronics, digital, robotics, aviation and logistics, biofuels and biochemical. A One Stop Service Center and a fund for competitiveness development will be set up for entrepreneurs.

Ambassador Sarun Charoensuwan of Tailand

Q: Any promotional plans for further development of relations between Korea and your country, including the possible dispatch of an economic delegation to Korea?
A: To further strengthen and deepen the bilateral relations between Thailand and Korea, we will expedite the drafting process of the Blueprint for Korea-Thailand Economic Cooperation Initiatives between Thailand and Korea, a comprehensive guideline on the future direction of the bilateral economic cooperation that was agreed by Deputy Prime Ministers of the two countries in March 2016. In addition, Thailand aims to host the Second Meeting of the Republic of Korea-Thailand Committee on Economic Cooperation (KOTCOM), a platform co-chaired by the Deputy Prime Ministers of the two countries to discuss all aspects of economic cooperation, early next year.
Thailand aims to further promote bilateral trade promotion with a particular emphasis on agricultural products. Recently, the Korean government has decided to resume imports of Thailand’s fresh chicken after a 12–year pause due to the avian influenza outbreak in 2004. On 14 December 2016, the first lot of frozen chicken from Thailand was shipped to Korea. To build up on this, we plan to invite a group of Korean poultry importers to visit chicken processing facilities in Thailand to see first-hand Thailand’s expertise in making quality poultry meat products. We expect to import 40,000 tons of frozen chickens to Korea next year. Apart from chicken, we will also continue our efforts on the import of Mahachanok mango and other premium Thai fruits to satisfy Korean consumers.
Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Events (MICE) industry is another area that the government put an emphasis on. In April 2017, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) will organize a TCEB Korea roadshow in Seoul in order to promote Thailand as a prime destination for convention and exhibition as well as to enhance cooperation in MICE industry between Thailand and Korea. A group of leading Thai MICE operators will also join the roadshow.
To promote closer people-to-people ties, the Royal Thai Embassy plans to organize the Third Thai Festival in May or June next year. The theme of the Third Thai Festival will be centered around the remembrance of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the promotion of the government’s key economic policies.

Q: Please introduce the Head of Government of your country with a copy of the portrait photograph of the Head of Government.
A: Currently, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, serves as the Head of Government. Please find his curriculum vitae and portrait photograph as attached.

Q: What are the areas of economy where Korean companies are welcome in your country? Do you have any specific Korean business organizations in mind favorably considered for economic cooperation with your country?
A: A number of Korean companies, such as POSCO and Samsung, already have investment in Thailand. Given Thailand geographical location as the center of ASEAN following the realization of the ASEAN Community last year, Korean investors are very much welcome to explore business opportunities in Thailand. As a result of the First Meeting of the Republic of Korea-Thailand Committee on Economic Cooperation (KOTCOM), the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand has now allocated an area called “Korea Zone” for Korean direct investment. The key areas that Koreans have expertise and can share their experiences and best practices with Thailand include port and railway development, water resource management, digital and creative economy, research and development and science, technology, ICT and innovation.
In order to promote closer economic cooperation between Thailand and Korea, the Royal Thai Embassy has been working closely with a number of business organizations, for example, Korean Importers Association (KOIMA), Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and ASEAN-Korea Center (AKC). We will continue to have close ties with these organizations and also expand our collaborations to other business groupings in the years ahead.

About the Prime Minister of Thailand
Name: General Prayut Chan-o-cha
Date of Birth: 21 March 1954
Spouse: Associate Professor Naraporn Chan-o-cha
Children: 2 daughters
1971 Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School (Class 12)
1976 Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.),
Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy (Class 23)
1976 Infantry Officer Basic Course (Class 51)
1981 Infantry Officer Advanced Course (Class 34)
1985 Command and General Staff College (Class 63)
2007 National Defence College
1990 Battalion Commander, Second Infantry Battalion, 21stInfantry Regiment, Queen’s Guard
1998 Commanding Officer, 21st Infantry Regiment, Queen’s Guard
2003 Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division, King’s Guard
2006 Commanding General, 1st Army Area
2008 Chief of Staff, Royal Thai Army
2009 Deputy Commander in Chief, Royal Thai Army
2010 Commander in Chief, Royal Thai Army (until 30 September 2014)
2014 Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (Since 22 May 2014)
Decorations by Royal Command:
1986 The Freeman Safeguarding Medal
1990 Member of The Honourable Order of Rama (Rama Mala Medal)
1999 Grand Companion of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao
2005 Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant
2008 Knight Grand Cordon of the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand
2010 Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant
Foreign Decorations:
2008 Honorary Malaysian Armed Forces Order for Valour (First Degree), Gallant Commander of Malaysian Armed Forces
2009 Pingat Jasa Gemilang (Tentera), Singapore
2012 Bintang Kartika Eka Pakci Utama, Indonesia
2013 Legion of Merit, United States of America
Special Official Duties in Service to Their Majesties (by Royal appointment):
1987 Royal Aide-de-Camp to His Majesty the King
1999 Assistant Chief, Royal Special Response Unit
2001 Deputy Chief, Royal Special Response Unit
2009 Special Royal Aide-de-Camp
2012 Judge of Military Supreme Court
Royal Appointments as Honour Officer
2002 Honour Officer to the 21st Infantry Regiment, Queen’s Guard
2004 Honour Officer to the 2nd Infantry Regiment, Queen’s Guard
2006 Honour Officer to the 1st Infantry Regiment, King’s Own Body Guard
2011 Honour Officer to the 11th Infantry Regiment, King’s Guard Awards by Society
2005 Awarded ‘Good Person of Thai Society’ by Thai Awards in the field of Promoting and Development of National Security
2006 Chakra Dao Alumni Award for Military Service by the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School
2010 Mahidol Ranusorn Award by the National Council on Social Welfare of Thailand under Royal Patronage
2011 Voted as Chief Executive Officer of the Year of a State Agency for 2011 by the ABAC Poll Research Institute
Other Positions:
2006 Member of the National Legislative Assembly
2006 Member of the Board of Directors, Metropolitan Electricity Authority
2007 Member of the Board of Directors, Thai Oil PCL
2010 Member of the Board of Directors, Thai Military Bank PCL

Lee Kyung-sik  edt@koeapost.com

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