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OTOP and SMEs operation center opened to boost business

OTOP and SMEs operation center opened to boost business

Autsadaporn Kamthai

It has been a good week for SMEs in Chiang Mai. After PM Thaksin Shinawatra opened an SME Center on Toong Hotel Road in Chiang Mai, Deputy Minister of Commerce Anuthin Charnweerakul presided over the opening of another on December 1: the OTOP and SMEs operation center at Chiang Mai’s Export Promotion Office to boost the capacity of Thai SMEs and OTOP.

Deputy Minister of Commerce Anuthin Charnweerakul (2nd left), Chantra Buranapruek (second right), director general of the Export Promotion Department and Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Thongchai Wongrianthong (left).

The center was initiated by the Export Promotion Center, Northern Region and Commerce Offices in the northern provinces. The center’s main tasks are developing and sustaining export of 5 star OTOP and SME products.

The center will provide product designers, international merchandisers and marketing experts for the OTOP and SME entrepreneurs. Thailand has a high rate of export and OTOP has emerged as one of the main export items, said Anuthin.

Thai product exports from January to October 2004 earned USD 80 billion, a 22.6 percent increase over last year, Anuthin said. Over USD 50 billion was earned from SMEs and OTOPs. The Commerce Ministry expected the total export value to reach USD 100 billion by the end of this year.

“Since 1997, Thailand has had a surplus trade balance thanks to PM Thaksin’s administration and policy,” Anuthin said, apparently ignoring the fact that Thaksin only came to power four years ago.

The Ministry of Commerce has routed Thai products to new markets including India, China, Canada, Australia, countries in Africa, and Korea, while the main markets are the European Union and ASEAN countries and the United States.