Economics: Swiss expert “Thailand on right track on creative economy” But with doubt

  • by Pooky, Thai Intel’s economics journalist

They used to say, “Thai government comes and go” but the policy stays the same. These days, that saying does not occur very often in Thailand.

But when it comes to the “Creative Economy” initiated by the previous government of Abhisit’s Democrat Party, last week, Thailand’s current prime minister, Yingluck, saw her Finance Minister, Kittirat, saying that “Creative Economy” is important to Thailand and would be continued.

But off course, Thailand is a country that have long been in the grips of the establishment, and as part of the establishment, is an education system that focus, mostly, on producing graduates that are subservice to the establishment.

How does one have a population that serves the establishment, well it starts with an education system, that gives little focus on critical and creative thinking.

Has the Thai education changed, with a Democracy leaning Yingluck government coming to power? The unfortunate fact is, an education system is a very long-term endevor. And without the teachers changing their “Mind-Set” first, the students have little chance to change an become more “Creative and Innovative.”

The best that can be said for Thailand, is that planners recognized the problems. As Matichon, a newspaper for the progressive intellect reported earlier, quote: “Thailand is moving up the economic ladder and will depend more on added value products and services that are the results of creativity and innovation.”

However, Matichon also reported on two Thai industries that have adapted well, being the Garment industry and the jewelry industry-two industry hit hard and early on from Thailand loosing its labor competitiveness.

“Last year Thai garment and jewelry industry posted double-digit export growth rate, because they are improving their design, and these Sun-Set industry shows no sign of being killed off in Thailand because of higher labor costs,” reported Matichon.

Swiss press for Thai creativity support

    Published: 7/04/2012 at 03:23 AM

    Newspaper section: Business

The Thai government should create a supportive environment for creative manufacturers to encourage more design ideas, says David Graves, CEO of Laureate Hospitality in Switzerland.

David Graves says creative designs and operations can add value for Thai producers.

“Thailand is moving in the right direction regarding the creative economy but the policy implementation is sometimes inconsistent,” he said.

Many Thai businesspeople consider creative operations now as they realise it can help them add value to Thai products as the country moves away from low-wage manufacturing.

But the government needs to create a favourable environment to encourage the private sector to work more on designs and creativity, he said.

For example, the government should help with the national campaign on branding Thailand, providing financial subsidies for those who start creative businesses and supporting educational programmes to develop new designers and talent.

“It’s a long-term policy and requires a hefty budget, but its worthwhile because of the benefit, particularly for the next generation of Thais,” said Mr Graves.

Mr Graves, a specialist in art and design education, said demand for designers and luxury products is increasing significantly in Asia.

He forecast sales of luxury and brand name products in Asia will triple in the next decade as the continent keeps driving economic growth because Asians love to give gifts to their friends and loved ones.

In China alone, luxury product sales last year reached US$5 billion.

He said many famous brands will adapt products for Asian tastes, recruiting Asian designers to help with designs.

“It’s a big opportunity for Thai and Asian talents to be part of product creativity and development for the region,” he added.

For Thai products, Mr Graves suggested producers should build strong names and brands locally first before expanding regionally and internationally. Brands should stand for something distinctive so their value and quality are established.

He added the Thai education system needs to be more practical to help students develop creativity. Creativity is about problem-solving and students should be encouraged to think outside of the box to solve problems, he said. But at the same time, they must instil discipline for work.

“Design students should be given the chance to work on real design projects to develop first-hand experience and learn how to handle criticism,” he said.

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