Bangkok, 29 November 2010

UNCTAD Secretary General, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi,

WIPO Deputy Director General, Geoffrey Onyeama,

Deputy ASEAN Secretary General, Sudram Pushpanathan,

Excellencies,

Distinguished Speakers and Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

1. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak this afternoon at the official opening of the Thailand International Creative Economy Forum. On behalf of the Royal Thai Government, allow me, first of all, to extend my warm welcome to all of you – especially those from overseas – and express my sincere appreciation for your interest and participation in this forum to advance Thailand’s Creative Economy Policy.

2. Let me also thank the co-sponsors and co-organizers for their support, especially Deputy Minister Alongkorn and his team, and everyone involved for their hard work over the past few months to make this event possible.The Inception of TICEF

3. This is the first time we have organized a Thailand International Creative Economy Forum (TICEF). It is an event that highlights our focus, interest, and intention to bring about concrete benefits through Thailand’s national creative economy policy. It is my hope that the TICEF will continue to serve as an international platform for leaders to annually highlight and improve upon the successes of creative economies throughout the world.

4. As we know, a “Creative Economy” is not a completely new idea. But given its complex nature, an attempt to bring about concrete results from its implementation is truly challenging. Given that challenge, the Thai government has attempted to fashion a policy that allows for more coherent and inclusive coordination and implementation of the creative economy concept.

5. Indeed, we must first be clear about what exactly a “Creative Economy” is and why we need it. One simple answer is that in an increasingly globalized world characterized by the threat of both natural resource depletion and increased competition, it is imperative that we discover new ways to compete. The developing countries, in particular, can no longer rely mainly on their natural resources and cheap labour. Their economies must not only be more skill-based but also more innovative in many ways in order to thrive in the new global context.

6. Notably, this involves an attempt to boost growth by being creative and different; to nurture a skilled and creative workforce; to build a strong and well diversified services sector; to strengthen intellectual property rights; and to capitalize on our rich culture and national heritage.

7. A Creative Economy is an important policy tool for governments to promote wealth creation and wealth distribution. In Thailand, the National Social and Economic Development Board recognizes the importance of creative economies to promote future growth and enhance international competitiveness by including the concept in their 11th Economic and Social Development Plan, which will be in effect in the 2012-2016 period.

8. The Thai economy is worth 264 billion US dollars. It is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia. Our GDP this year has been forecast to grow by 7.3 to 7.8 percent. At the same time, we are seeing an upward trend in creative industries. In 2008, the creative sectors employed almost one million people. Creative industries now account for approximately 12 percent of the country’s GDP. This growth is integral to our prosperity.

9. The theme of this year’s TICEF is “globaLOCALisation”. The emphasis is on the term “local”. The question is, how do we capitalize on local resources, and use creativity to make our products and services transcend cultures and thrive in the global market? How do we come up with creative responses at the local level to globalization?

Creative Thailand

10. In August of last year, when Thailand officially launched its Creative Thailand Policy at the Government House, the intention was to send a clear message to the country’s industries, governmental agencies and educational institutions. The message was that the Government sought their support for reform in our key economic sectors. The goal was to make Thailand a hub of creative industries in Southeast Asia, and to boost the economic contributions of national creative industries from the current 12 percent of GDP to 20 percent by 2012.

11. As a result of recent discussions with countries that are developing their own Creative Economies, we started to think of new ways of developing Thailand – that is, to transform it into a more creative and more innovative economy. Regionally, Japan and Korea have both seen great success with their own Creative Economies. But we cannot merely copy models used by others. Rather, each country needs to develop its own unique ideas of a Creative Economy.

Government Measures and Implementation

12. The Government has done its best to achieve this goal, particularly by embarking on a comprehensive public awareness campaign and forming public-private partnerships in different creative sectors such as film-making, tourism, crafts and design. We have pledged to support private sector undertakings. A budget of one billion baht – earmarked for 16 projects under the Second Stimulus Package, or the “Thai Khem Kaeng” Plan 2010-2012 – has been ready for disbursement immediately since the start of Fiscal Year 2011.

13. Moreover, the government approved the Creative City Project, proposed by the Office of Knowledge Management and Development, to nurture a creative environment in different cities across the country, as well as the Digital Media Asia 2010 Project, proposed by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. The Digital Media Asia Project involves organization of international exhibitions and academic seminars among ASEAN countries, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the People’s Republic of China to encourage transfer of technology and knowledge. There are also a number of projects that private interests plan to pursue in collaboration with the public sector. These projects encompass development in the areas of education, human resources, and infrastructure, together with marketing and export promotion for creative industries.

14. Last year the government pledged to deliver, within three years, a 12-point Creative Thailand Commitment, which addresses four core aspects:

• First, Creative infrastructure, in which the Government commits itself to (1) establishment of a “Creative Economy Agency” to oversee the implementation of Creative Economy Policy; (2) enhancement of the efficiency of the intellectual property management system; and (3) development of ICT infrastructure to support creative industries;

• Secondly, Creative education and human resources development, whereby the Government commits itself to (1) enhancement of creative learning in the national curriculum; (2) support for specialization in the areas of design and other forms of art to systematically increase the number of personnel and expand creative workforce.

• Thirdly, Creati

ve society and inspiration, through which the Government commits itself to (1) creation of added value of traditional knowledge and generate income to the local people; (2) enhancement of the professional standing of creative Thais whose accomplishments earn international recognition, including support for initiatives/projects to popularize Thai art and culture in the world community; and (3) providing spaces for activities and exhibitions related to creativity (creative zones), such as a visual art zone, and a performing art zone.

• Lastly, Creative business development whereby the Government commits itself to (1) establishment of a Creative Economy Fund and support other funding sources to enable new entry and value creation of business operators, particularly SMEs; (2) undertaking new investment promotion measures to support creative industries, including legislative changes and enactment of new laws to promote and support a Creative Economy, private sector investment and value-added efforts; (3) promotion of marketing and commercial activities for exports of creative products; and (4) allocation of a sizeable budget of 20 billion Baht from the Stimulus Plan to be disbursed over three years (2010-2012).

15. Last year, the TCEA or Thailand Creative Economy Agency was established and attached to my Office, to coordinate the overall implementation of the creative economy, and to serve as a think-tank and intelligence unit to propel creative economic policy in Thailand. Our Intellectual Property Office is enhancing the efficiency of the entire intellectual property system. We plan to legislate and enforce effective rights protections, upgrade our registration system and streamline procedures for all types of intellectual property, with a view to ensuring due process.

16. The government is also committed to developing ICT infrastructure to support creative industries, such as 3G and 4G systems, Fiber Optics, Broadband and WireMax. Recently, the National Broadband Committee was set up to supervise the creation of a broadband network that covers at least 80 percent of the population by 2015. The average monthly fee of the broadband service per person is expected to be less than 2 percent of per capita income, down from 6 percent in 2008.

17. In the area of education, given the importance of knowledge and public awareness as elements of soft infrastructure, the Department of Intellectual Property has been assigned to draft a curriculum on creative economies and intellectual property for schools and universities. Seven potential universities have already been designated as Centres of Excellence (COE) or incubation centres for each creative industry. The designated universities are expected to promote entrepreneurship and facilitate the development of their respective creative industries.

18. As young people are our future, the government must help ensure there are sufficient quality jobs available to them when they grow up. To that end, the government has supported specialization in creative disciplines, with plans to systematically increase the number of personnel and expand the creative workforce. In order to achieve this, we have taken steps to strengthen relationships between academia and industry in order to facilitate a transfer of knowledge and encourage entrepreneurship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

19. All countries – including Thailand – possess rich natural heritage and culture. A very pertinent question is how we can make better use of this local knowledge and heritage in a creative environment. The government, in collaboration with other sectors, is working to create regulatory and learning environments that are sophisticated and flexible enough to nurture creative individuals and enterprises.

20. The government is promoting its Creative Economy policies at the regional and community levels in order to incorporate traditional knowledge and generate income. For example, Thai traditional medicine, which uses local knowledge of herbs and acupressure, can be used in the Creative Economy in combination with science and technology, technical standards, qualification requirements, certification and marketing.

21. We also need to improve financing opportunities to grow the Creative Economy. To that end, the government, through the Board of Investment, is undertaking new investment promotion measures to encourage and support private sector trade and investment for creative industries. We also plan to establish a Creative Economy Fund and other funding schemes to assist business operators – particularly SMEs, which account for 99 percent of business establishments in Thailand.

Conclusion

22. Through this forum, we commemorate the first anniversary of Thailand’s Creative Economy Policy by hosting an international gathering of creative minds that are encouraged to share their thoughts and experiences on how we can best respond to challenges in a globalised world. I am particularly pleased that the TICEF has been well attended by representatives from many of our trading partners, including ASEAN Member States. This can be yet another stepping stone to the promotion of Creative ASEAN, which would explore ways to use the individual strengths of each ASEAN member while taking into account the soon-to-be-realized ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

23. Already today, we have heard from leaders and representatives of international organizations that play an important role in development. Insights like those offered by WIPO and UNCTAD help us draw policy implications for future international cooperation. Tomorrow we are going to continue discussing several important issues, such as creative communities, design and branding, content and media, and traditional knowledge. I hope that these additional breakout sessions will provide a lot of useful ideas for all of the participants, and I would be interested to see how these issues can be integrated for the purpose of future policy recommendation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

24. Let me conclude by underscoring that human creativity is closely linked to the contribution it makes to economic growth and the creation of jobs and income. It is my hope that the TICEF will be used to discuss the social and economic structures that allow us to integrate human imagination, ideas, knowledge and culture with available resources such as new technology. As a result, we will be able to create and improve goods, services, and processes to raise living standards and respond to global challenges – including climate change, food security and energy – in the years to come.

25. On this note, I would now like to declare the Thailand International Creative Economy Forum officially open.

26. Thank you very much and Sawasdee Krub.