Ministry of Commerce set sights on Thailand becoming a fashion hub

Walk into some of Bangkok’s leading shopping mall, such as Esplanade on Ratchada Road, and one would notice a fashion design school, and with the glass window, one could see inside, at the busy design shop, filled with students. Faced with a fall in exports to the US and EU, Thailand’s textile and garment industry has set its sights on becoming a fashion hub for the ASEAN region, based on a strong line up of fashion and textile schools. Slowing demand from the US and EU has been offset by a rise in Thailand’s exports to Asia – including China, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan – which now accounts for half the country’s total exports, according to Srirat Rastapana, director-general of Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) at the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand. Speaking to just-style she added: “Some 23-24% of exports are within ASEAN and China takes up 12% and both are growing. Asia is a huge market with plenty of room for expansion; we will focus our attention and efforts on Asia.” Rastapana points to Thailand’s advantages, including “its strategic location to become a distribution centre of ASEAN,” product quality, and an array of educational institutes producing potential personnel in textiles and design. However, the industry faces challenges too, explains Somsak Srisuponvanit, chairman of the National Federation of Thai Textile Industries. “In order to maintain its position in the global apparel industry, Thailand must cooperate with ASEAN countries for sustainability,” he notes.  Yuttana Silpsarnvitch, executive director of the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association (TGMA), agrees that the “minimum wage is not the key problem; the shortage of workers is. He adds: “Thailand’s younger generation is reluctant to enter labour intensive industries; they wish to work in the hospitality, entertainment and tourism, industries the government is supporting and promoting to the world.” (Source)

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