Government and Private Sectors join hands to push forward Thailand to become Bio Hub

Energy Press Releases Wednesday August 26, 2015 13:34
Bangkok--26 Aug--The Petroleum Institute of Thailand

The Petroleum Institute of Thailand (PTIT) together with Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration at Chulalongkorn University had formed a special committee, for the purpose of creating a long-term national strategy supporting private investments into a “New Wave Industry” of integrated businesses, the Bio Hub. The National Economic and Social Development Board and the Federation of Thai Industries agreed that this would help create added value for agricultural products, increase wealth distributed to the agricultural sector, develop domestic biotechnology and increase national revenue, thus providing long term benefits to the nation.

Mr.Siri Jirapongphan, Director of the Petroleum Institute of Thailand (PTIT) proposed 4 strategies to drive Thailand to become a leader in integrated Biotechnology industry (or so called Bio Hub) within 20 years. The proposition includes the creation of a biotechnology industrial hub in a single location with close access to raw materials, incorporating production of bio-fuels, bio-chemicals and bio-plastics. This would include the construction of infrastructures and public services to accommodate continuous production. Integration of all these components would increase productivity and energy efficiency. The production of fertilizers and use of recycle water in agriculture would also be an additional bonus. The development process is to be split into 2 phases. Phase 1 (2018-2025) using sugar cane as raw material to produce bio-fuels, bio-chemicals and bio-plastics, would result in 120 billion baht of revenue per year. Phase 2 (2026-2035) would utilize cassava and other applicable bio-materials, and is estimated to consume 35 million tons for produce per year, generating 500 billion baht of revenue annually.

Mr. Chaipong Pongpanich, Director of Sasin Management Consulting, affirmed that Thailand’s capabilities in terms of agricultural produce to be use as raw materials. Currently, Thailand exports 56 million tons of sugar annually, second only to Brazil. Thailand also exports 25 million tons of cassava derivatives annually, and the equivalent amount of raw cassava, and is the world’s number 1 exporter. Together with some existing production of bio-products, Thailand is not starting this endeavor at zero, thus have a high possibility to become a world leader in integrated industrial biotechnology. The use of agricultural produce as raw materials can create an industrial value chain within the kingdom, add value to agricultural produce, generate revenue for the country, distribute wealth to local communities, and create new employment opportunities and labor stability. If this industrial biotechnology enterprise is made possible, it will add around 100 billion baht in investment for phase 1, not to mention future investments. However, Thailand’s current limitation lies in not being a leader in terms of biotechnology, therefore, governmental policies to incentivize investment and attract key players in Biotechnology to invest in Thailand will be crucial.

Mr. Bowon Vongsinudom, Vice Chairman for the Federation of Thai Industries pointed out that the private sector is both ready and capable to develop the business. Mr. Bowon viewed the development of the Bio Hub within a single area with close access to raw materials as being ideal for Thailand. However, it is a risky investment still, due to the large amount of capital required. Therefore governmental support is necessary, especially policies incentivizing investment. There is also additional risk because biotechnology licenses are expensive and exclusive to its owner. Therefore the government will need to consider the correct measures to incentivize investors, as well as the correct level of low interest loans. The market of bio-products is also an important factor, as the production costs of bio-products are typically higher, resulting in a demand that is not yet widespread.Consequentially, raising awareness and spearheading bio-product markets is a crucial strategy. The collaboration both of public and private endeavors is crucial in developing industrial biotechnology within the kingdom by making preparations and strengthening this industry, including policies to support initial investments, having necessary infrastructures and public services. This is to help make the production costs of bio-product more competitive relative to non-bio competitors.

Mr. Thanin Pa-Em, Deputy Secretary-General at the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) stated that the biotechnology industry is a new industry that is important for future development of the Thai economy. This is because it is a New Wave Industry that create value for domestic agricultural produce, which is in accordance with the global trend in production that is focusing more on the environment and sustainable development. Starting a Thai biotechnology industry will create a foundation for businesses in bio-products, as well as potentially creating further industrial developments. This is an opportunity for Thailand to become a technological leader, furthering research and technologies developed by Thai researchers.

For that reason, if Thailand can initiate the creation of a domestic biotechnology industry, it will help improve the quality of life and welfare of the citizens, synergize with the National development plan and the government’s desire to stimulate investments. However, the executing this endeavor will involve many governmental bodies and other organizations. Integrating these necessary organizations and defining joint goals is a necessary step to consider.

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