Thai PM Srettha Thavisin leads at Davos, rallying ‘Team Thailand’ with top execs. IMF warns AI benefits wealthier nations more, posing challenges for Thailand. The PM’s mission is to attract foreign investment and help bring about an advanced tech revolution in Southeast Asia’s troubled second-biggest economy.
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is in Davos Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum Summit this week. He is joined there by top Thai business executives and luminaries as the kingdom puts its best foot forward on the international stage. This year, the transformative power of AI is on the agenda. A report just released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, shows that the country faces a challenge to benefit from the new technology which could lead to even more exclusion and inequality at the top.
In a bid to promote Thailand on the global stage and drum up badly needed foreign investment to the country, Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Mr Srettha Thavisin, is attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in the Swiss Confederation, held between January 15 and 19, 2024.
Srettha, with commercial experience as a highly successful businessman, expressed a determination to exhibit Thailand’s potential and foster international collaboration.
Other key Thai executives are also there. They include 34-year-old Jirayut Srupsrisopa or ‘Topp’, the Oxford-educated CEO of Bitkub. Bitkub, a successful and resilient cryptocurrency exchange emerged in 2021 as Thailand’s first unicorn company.
Leading Thai businessman Jirayut Srupsrisopa or ‘Topp’ also flying the flag for Thailand at the influential worldwide event this week in Switzerland
‘Topp’ is also an expert and pioneer in the broader application of blockchain technology. Undoubtedly he is one of Thailand’s most exciting and upcoming businessmen.
Pictured before a Thai flag in Davos, Mr Jirayut said he was part of ‘Team Thailand’ at the summit.
Davos is a small municipality in Eastern Switzerland in the canton of Graubünden. It is known worldwide for the annual summit of world leaders.
Digital assets wizard with an energy and tech vision that the country needs to make Thailand 4.0 work
Ahead of his departure, Prime Minister Srettha shared his excitement at the prospect of the WEF summit. Posting on January 15, 2024, while waiting for a connecting flight to Zurich, he shared a picture of himself buying books.
The message accompanying the image stated: ‘Spent time while waiting for my connecting flight to Zurich looking for books to read. In case there are interesting issues, let’s talk with the leaders we will meet.’
Broader goal to promote Thailand and generate inward investment, especially from giant Western players
This participation in the WEF is part of the government’s broader goal. In brief, this is showcasing Thailand and exploring opportunities on the global economic stage.
Thailand badly needs increased inward investment and the technology skills of leading Western firms to modernise its economy. Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, is facing an array of chronic and limiting problems.
Undoubtedly, Thailand has fallen into the ‘middle-income trap’ and it will take long-term thinking and structural reform to remedy its chronic problems
The World Economic Forum provides a platform for global leaders to discuss crucial issues. In particular, this year, the impact of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) on the global economy.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) just released an analysis dealing with the potential influence of AI on the worldwide labour market.
AI is quickly going to impact jobs across the world and could see layoffs. Indeed it is already happening at an accelerating pace including in Thailand
AI is a technological revolution with the capacity to jumpstart productivity, stimulate global growth, and enhance incomes.
At the same time, it raises sharp concerns about job displacement and increased inequality. The IMF analysis highlights that almost 40% of global employment is exposed to AI, with the potential to both replace and complement jobs.
These changes are already occurring at an accelerating pace. There have already been layoffs in Thailand within the creative and broadcasting sectors linked with AI. This transformation began even before the pandemic.
The analysis suggests that in advanced economies, approximately 60% of jobs may be impacted by AI.
Presently, AI is helping to make wealthier and developed countries even more successful. Thailand as an emerging economy needs to find a winning strategy
Simultaneously, this poses both risks and opportunities. While some jobs may benefit from AI integration, others may witness a decrease in labour demand. In short, it could ultimately lead to lower wages and reduced hiring.
In contrast, emerging markets and low-income countries are expected to face fewer immediate disruptions from AI. However, they may struggle to harness its benefits due to insufficient infrastructure and skilled workforces.
AI’s impact on income and wealth inequality within countries is also a concern, with potential polarisation within income brackets. While workers who can effectively leverage AI may see increased productivity and wages, those unable to adapt may face challenges.
The IMF emphasises the need for comprehensive social safety nets and retraining programmes to address potential inequalities.
On one hand, Thailand with an ageing and less educated workforce may not be well positioned to take advantage of AI.
On the other hand, however, the effects of AI on a resourceful, resilient and service-oriented workforce may be immense. Certainly, a national strategy is required.
In the past two decades, the Thai population has proved surprisingly adept at using and taking to digital technology.
AI’s enhanced ability to bridge language barriers a key benefit that could help Thailand reach out to the world if the technology is embraced by people
A key benefit may be AI’s more powerful ability to bridge the language divide. In essence, this is a key negative for the Thai economy.
To assist countries in crafting effective policies, the IMF has developed an AI Preparedness Index. It measures readiness in digital infrastructure, human capital and labour-market policies, innovation, economic integration, regulation and ethics.
Wealthier economies, including advanced and some emerging market economies, tend to be better equipped for AI adoption.
This is not a surprise, Thailand is among the second tier of emerging economies.
Singapore, the United States, and Denmark emerged as leaders on the index, showcasing strong results in all tracked categories.
The index emphasises the importance of prioritising AI innovation, integration, and the development of robust regulatory frameworks for advanced economies.
In contrast, emerging markets and developing economies should focus firstly on building a strong foundation. This would entail investments in digital infrastructure and a digitally competent workforce.
AI poses a challenge to Thailand’s society and unique culture. Undoubtedly, this is a colonising technology with exactingly effective uniform standards
As Thai players actively participate in global forums such as the WEF, the nation faces a uniquely powerful development which will have a substantial impact. Certainly, over an extended time period.
Accordingly, we are entering an era of technological colonisation producing a convergent worldwide standard of capability. Regardless, this has wider implications for Thai society and its culture.
With the rapid development and capabilities of AI, Thailand must prepare to deal with the impact of this transformative technology.
In 2023, AI witnessed significant growth globally, attracting investments in the technology sector.
Thailand, like many other nations, is aware of the need to stay competitive in the AI era. The government must formulate policies and strategies to harness the benefits of AI while mitigating potential risks.
The global community is at the forefront of an AI-driven world.
Thailand, since Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin took office, has been actively engaging with this order. The Kingdom wants to be seen as a good international player.
Nonetheless, AI is clearly going to produce winners and losers. To win, Team Thailand must play the game as positively as possible.