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Srettha Thavisin at Nikkei Forum: Visioning a United Asia for the 21st Century

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Amid the vibrant hustle of Tokyo, amidst a gathering that was as diverse as it was dynamic, Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin stood, poised and ready to share his vision—a vision not just for his country but for an entire continent teetering on the brink of a new era. The occasion was the 29th Nikkei Forum Future of Asia, a convening of minds and hearts under the expansive theme of ‘Asian Leadership in an Uncertain World’. The air was thick with anticipation as Srettha took the stage, his voice a beacon of hope in a time of global uncertainty.

It was in this charged atmosphere that Srettha, with the poise of a seasoned diplomat and the fervor of a true leader, called upon the nations of Asia to band together like never before. Deputy government spokesperson Radklao Inthawong Suwankiri, echoing the sentiment of the evening, painted a picture of Asia at a crossroads. According to Radklao, the cornerstone of Srettha’s keynote was the undeniable truth that we are now living in the “Asian Century”—a period where the collective might and wisdom of Asia could very well dictate the pace and direction of global progress.

The prime minister’s message was crystal clear: in a world riddled with uncertainties, the only path forward for Asia was unity. With a population tipping the scales at over 4.78 billion souls, Asia’s potential as an economic juggernaut is unparalleled. But, as Srettha eloquently pointed out, realizing this potential would require an unprecedented level of cooperation, particularly in areas as vital as trade and investment. In his vision, he saw Asia not just weathering the storm of geopolitical upheavals but thriving amidst them, underpinned by a staunch commitment to a multilateral trading system with the WTO at its heart.

But trade and investment were just the beginning. Srettha dared to dream bigger, touching upon the green transition—a challenge so immense it encapsulates the very future of our planet. With Thailand on the brink of passing its first-ever Climate Change Act, the message was clear: it’s time for a bold leap towards sustainability. The vision included transforming Thailand into a hub for electric vehicle (EV) production, aiming for a future where zero-emission vehicles make up 30% of all vehicles by 2030. Yet, in a nod to the complexities of transition, Srettha assured continued support for Japanese producers of traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, showcasing a balanced approach to innovation.

Among the prime minister’s forward-looking initiatives was the development of the “Asean Power Grid,” a testament to the region’s collective push towards renewable energy. Thailand itself is on a quest to derive at least 50% of its energy from clean and renewable sources by 2040, a goal as ambitious as it is crucial for the planet.

The third pillar of Srettha’s grand vision was digitalization. Here, the aim was not just to foster a digital economy but to cultivate a fully-fledged digital society—a vision where Asean leads the charge with the world’s first regional Digital Economy Framework Agreement. With this move, Asia is not merely adapting to the digital revolution; it is setting the pace, aiming to double the value of its digital economy to a staggering US$2 trillion by 2030.

In a world teetering on the edge of uncertainty, Srettha’s message was a clarion call for collective leadership, an invitation to each Asian nation to shoulder its part of the shared burden, to reignite growth, and to restore faith in a global system that seems increasingly fragile. The prime minister’s rhetoric was not just about leadership in uncertain times; it was a roadmap for a united, prosperous, and sustainable future for Asia, and indeed, for the world.

As his speech drew to a close, the room was left in a hush—a reflection not just of the weight of the moment, but of the monumental task ahead. But in that silence, there was also a sense of hope, a shared understanding that despite the challenges, Asia’s future is bright, if only we dare to dream and work as one. Srettha Thavisin didn’t just deliver a speech; he sparked a movement, setting the stage for what could very well be the most defining century in Asian history.


  1. TechInAsiaFan May 25, 2024

    Srettha’s vision is exactly what Asia needs right now. Unity and cooperation across borders can boost the continent’s growth exponentially. Especially interested in how the Asean Power Grid could change the energy landscape.

    • SkepticalSteve May 25, 2024

      While the vision is grand, I doubt the feasibility of such an ambitious project. Political differences and economic disparities could hinder genuine cooperation.

      • OptimistOlivia May 25, 2024

        It’s always the naysayers! These kinds of projects are what push humanity forward. Sure, it’s going to be tough, but the rewards could be monumental.

      • TechInAsiaFan May 25, 2024

        I get your concerns, Steve, but think about the EU. Despite their differences, they’ve managed quite well. It’s about time Asia had its moment.

    • GreenThumbGina May 25, 2024

      The focus on sustainable energy and digitalization is thrilling. Asia could lead the global green transition, setting a standard for others.

      • EcoEric May 25, 2024

        Agreed, Gina! The green transition is non-negotiable at this point. Asia stepping up could indeed push others to follow suit.

  2. HistoryBuff May 25, 2024

    Calling this the ‘Asian Century’ might be premature. Remember, progress is not just about economic growth but also about social and political advancements.

    • FuturistFrank May 25, 2024

      Economics is a driving force, though. As Asia grows richer, it’ll have more resources to address social and political issues. You can’t separate the two.

  3. JaneD May 25, 2024

    I’m torn on this vision. Yes, Asia’s progress is key to the world, but what about the environmental cost? The article mentions sustainability, but is it enough?

    • SustainabilitySam May 25, 2024

      That’s the million-dollar question. The plans sound nice on paper, but the execution is what matters. Can they really balance growth and sustainability?

      • JaneD May 25, 2024

        Exactly! It’s the ‘how’ that concerns me. Too often, we’ve seen good intentions result in unforeseen consequences.

  4. PoliticoPeter May 25, 2024

    While the speech is inspiring, I have my doubts about real political will. Asian nations have shown time and again that internal interests often trump regional cooperation.

    • JaneD May 25, 2024

      Good point. The idea of collective leadership sounds great, but national agendas can be quite the obstacle.

  5. EconomyElla May 25, 2024

    The emphasis on the WTO and multilateral trade is fascinating. If Asia can indeed unify, it could reshape global trade dynamics in favor of the continent.

    • TradeTrevor May 25, 2024

      Certainly, the potential is there. But getting all Asian nations on the same page, especially with the WTO involved, is going to be a Herculean task.

  6. DigitalDev May 25, 2024

    This digital society vision is where the future’s at. Asia could leapfrog in terms of innovation and tech. Very captivating!

  7. EVEnthusiast May 25, 2024

    30% of all vehicles being electric by 2030 is bold but achievable. Interested in seeing how this ambition will be supported policy-wise and financially.

  8. ClassicCarCam May 25, 2024

    I’m all for progress, but we shouldn’t hastily abandon internal combustion engine vehicles. The transition needs to account for those who may lose out.

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