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.
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
“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