AIM 2022 Aims to Spur Growth in Foreign Direct Investments Worldwide

● Developed economies registered a threefold increase in FDIs in 1H21, reaching a total of $424 billion ● The UAE is one of the world’s top 20 economies, in terms of FDI ● AIM 2022’s FDI Pillar aims to explore pivotal themes, including mainstreaming ESG investments, GVCs Optimisation, IPAs as a favourable business environment, importance of SEZs, amongst other relevant topics

Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi

Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi

DUBAI, Arab Emirates, Dec. 29, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Eyeing the augmentation of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) flows worldwide, The Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) — an initiative by the UAE’s Ministry of Economy — expressed its keenness on continuing to create numerous investment opportunities and innovative economic and business strategies, whilst fully supporting the ensuing macro recovery and subsequent changes to the global economy.

AIM 29-31 March 2022 — global context and focus themes 

The AIM’s next edition — to be held from 29 to 31 March 2022, with the theme of “Investments in Sustainable Innovation for a Thriving Future” — will focus mainly on endorsing and boosting investments towards sustainability and innovation through key activities under the FDI Pillar.

Thanks to rising investors’ confidence, FDI flows have rebounded, globally, in 1H21, as per the latest United Nations (UN) report. Developed economies’ FDIs increased more than threefold in the first half of this year, hitting $424 billion. Contrary to previous forecasts, global FDI prospects for the full year have improved, the UNCTAD report indicated. This has also been evident in FDIs into East and Southeast Asian countries, which saw a rise of 25%.

The UAE is one of the world’s top 20 economies, in terms of FDI, indicating the country’s strong economic performance. In response to the pandemic, it was one of the first countries in the world to launch stimulus packages and initiatives to provide the necessary support to the economy’s various sectors and adapt to pandemic-related challenges. The country’s resilience and relentless pursuit of successful economic transformation and sustainability are clearly manifested in the high global rankings it has achieved.

H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade of the UAE, said: 

“With the world’s greatest show, Expo 2020 Dubai, we are now looking forward to collaborating with other organizations and partnering with the best ideas in the world to shape the future. To achieve our goal of attracting foreign direct investment, we offer a number of incentives to investors, such as zero personal income tax, 100% foreign ownership, and a 10-year golden visa. Currently, the UAE is ranked 11th in the world for Ease of Doing Business and first in the region. Together, we will make the UAE the best investment destination in the world.”

AIM 2022 activities are designed to boost investment opportunities extensively in various sectors. Participants can explore lucrative investment prospects and ideas under the FDI Pillar as global markets offer new investment opportunities to spur economic growth.

H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi added that: 

“For the past 10 years, the Annual Investment Meeting has played a crucial role in bringing in foreign investment to the UAE. Our focus is now on enhancing UAE’s international reputation as an investment hub and mobilizing concrete investments, along with bringing in solutions for sustainable economic growth. I believe the next edition of the Annual Investment Meeting will bring positive economic change achieving new milestones in the FDI world.”

AIM 2022 will recognize the best Investment Promotion Agencies across the globe through the AIM Awards, giving tribute to the best FDI projects in regions that have contributed significantly to their markets’ growth and expansion.

AIM’s FDI Pillar will present and discuss key topics. These include: 

  • “Less than a decade away from SDGs 2030, where are we now, in terms of sustainable investments?” will explore the concerns and action plans to foster inclusive economic development and resilient societies.
  • “How FDIs must drive change towards mainstreaming ESG investments”: Experts from global investment agencies will provide their insights and engage in thought-provoking discussions.
  • Global Value Chains (GVCs) Optimisation” is also especially relevant, as developed and emerging economies are urged to reposition and optimize their supply chain systems, not only in terms of cost-effectiveness but, more importantly, from the perspective of logistical expertise and long-term regional stability. As GVCs are revisited, redesigned and transformed, this will be reflected in investors’ preferences, in addition to all the complementary initiatives that are implemented by regulatory authorities.
  • Establishing a digital competitive investment infrastructure has now become mandatory for positioning Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) as favourable business environments, which was evident in the global economic recovery pattern. This issue will be explored in the session “Accommodating Virtual FDIs: No Longer a Far-Fetched Concept, but a Requisite.”
  • According to UNCTAD, only half of the IPAs worldwide acknowledge the impact of FDI attraction in their country zones. The Special Economic Zones (SEZs) session, “Walking the Talk Beyond Fiscal Incentives,” will discuss the rationality of establishing SEZs: what makes them mutually prosperous and sustainable in today’s business context; and how to best strategize their development through constructive partnerships.
  • When selecting an FDI location, countries with higher-skilled and better-educated workforces tend to attract more greenfield FDI projects (UNCTAD, WIF). In the wake of workforce flexibility, countries are increasingly promoting diverse and digitally adept talent pools to leverage FDIs. The session “Seizing the Opportunity to Attract & Retain the Talent Pool” will present an opportunity where policymakers and employers will gather to tackle the issue of the remotely functional and resilient workforce in today’s fragmented global economy.
  • Focused on three regional topics that examine the economic landscapes of Africa, Asia and Latin America, Day 3 of the FDI Pillar’s activities will explore the regions’ risks, challenges and opportunities for growth that call for increased regional cooperation.

Mr. Dawood Al Shezawi, President of the AIM’s Organising Committee, stated that: 

“Since the global pandemic, the Annual Investment Meeting has undertaken several innovative and technologically driven initiatives to transform the economy towards an upward direction. The platform has continued to drive investments through smart solutions. It has also pushed for the development of several projects that add value to investors and the economy in general. AIM recognises the UAE’s continued success and will serve as an instrument to further establish future economic developments and boost FDI flows worldwide.”

The Annual Investment Meeting continues to gain support from several ministries and government departments, Special Economic Zones (SEZ), smart city solution providers, venture capitalists, angel investors and several financial institutions to provide SMEs and start-ups with an abundance of opportunities. Apart from AIM’s FDI Pillar, the Annual Investment Meeting consists of five more pillars: i) the 50 Initiatives Pillar; ii) The Small Medium Enterprises (SME’s) Pillar; iii) The Future Cities Pillar; iv) The Start-ups Pillar; and v) the FPI Pillar.

For more information on AIM 2022, please visit www.aimcongress.com.

About the Annual Investment Meeting

Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) is the world’s leading platform for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), aimed at facilitating strategic networking and promoting investments. It is the largest gathering of the international investment community, policymakers, business leaders, regional and international investors, entrepreneurs, leading academics and experts showcasing up-to-date information and strategies on attracting FDI. 

It convenes key decision-makers from around the world, bringing together businesses and countries willing to engage in sustainable partnerships with investors. It offers a variety of features aimed at facilitating strategic networking and promoting investments while providing a worthwhile learning experience.

For press inquiries, please contact Angie.Mahran@aimcongress.com.

Related Images

Image 1: Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi

Minister of State for Foreign Trade and Minister in charge of Talent Attraction and Retention at Ministry Of Economy, UAE

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Are charity runs side-stepping real crisis in Thai education?

Dana (giving) is recognized as a virtue in Thai culture, meaning almost all citizens are familiar with the idea of charity and donations. But this month a debate on what the state – rather than charity – should provide has gone viral across Thailand. The hot topic was sparked after rock star Artiwara “Toon Bodyslam” Kongmalai decided to stage another charity run to raise funds for impoverished children.

“Why doesn’t Toon question existing state mechanisms, the current charter or the new education law instead?” asked Athapol Anunthavorasakul, a Chulalongkorn University education lecturer.

Many Thais agree that combatting poverty and Thailand’s appalling level of inequality is the duty of the government, not celebrities and other private citizens.

That opinion began trending earlier this month when the hashtag #whydoesToonrun? rippled across social media.

In a bid to halt the growing wave of criticism, Artiwara’s wife Rachwin explained that he began his charity runs for poor kids last year after the Equitable Education Fund (EEF) contacted his Kaokonlakao Foundation for help.

“EEF hopes we can help raise public awareness about the risk of very poor children dropping out of schools,” Rachwin said on December 25, as controversy raged over the rock star’s charitable efforts.

Last year, his charity run raised Bt27 million for impoverished and vulnerable students. Artiwara recently announced plans for another charity run early next year.

Efficient state policies vs charity

Chula lecturer Athapol conceded that charity could be useful in certain cases – such as in crises that need urgent solutions where government help could arrive too late. However, knowledgeable people should realize that charity cannot compensate for structural problems in society, he added.

“If Toon is worried about dropouts, he should encourage the public to question state policies and management,” the outspoken educator said.

Athapol pointed out that Thai education is not lacking in funding, and that several mechanisms are in place to prevent kids from drifting away from schools.

“Toon should not turn a blind eye to such facts, otherwise the real problems will simply be swept under the carpet,” he commented.

Thailand’s huge education budget

Of all ministries in Thailand, the Education Ministry receives the biggest budget. It was allocated Bt356.44 billion in fiscal year 2021, dropping to Bt332.39 billion in 2022 amid the pandemic-related economic crisis.

The Thai state offers free education for 12 years, while also providing the Student Loan Fund to ensure cash-strapped students can further their education. However, because student loans are only granted to children from families earning Bt360,000 per year or less, many have no choice but to give up their studies.

Flaws in charter?

The 2017 Constitution stipulates that the state must provide 12 years of free education. But unlike the 1997 Constitution, the current charter states that the period of free education starts at pre-school age, not Pathom 1.

Drafters of the 2017 Constitution said the change was made to support early development when young brains are developing quickly. However, a problem with the new policy has emerged. When the 12 years of free education ends at Mathayom 3 – typically 14 years of age – nearly 50 percent of graduates decide to not pursue further education.

According to the National Economic and Social Development Council, yearly education expenses for senior-secondary students averaged Bt7,607 in 2020 each. Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that only 60 percent of Thai children complete senior secondary education.

Mathayom 3 graduates usually enter the labor market as unskilled workers and end up earning low pay all their lives. But if they can further their studies, for example, in a vocational field, then their job and salary prospects improve significantly.

Role of the EEF

The storm of criticism buffeting Artiwara quickly engulfed the Equitable Education Fund, too. Established under the 2017 Constitution to curb educational inequalities, EEF received a large budget of up to Bt7.6 billion this fiscal year. Critics are now wondering why EEF still needs help from Artiwara and others.

Pumsaran Thongliemnak, an education economics specialist at EEF, said that while free education provided by the state was a good foundation, much more money was needed to help cash-strapped students further their studies.

“Fund-raising via charity events is a way to solve these problems in the short run,” he said via Facebook. “If we can do it, let’s do it. [But] if we want sustainable results, debates on the structural allocation of resources must be conducted to achieve long-term solutions.”

EEF provided scholarships to 949,941 cash-strapped families in the fiscal year 2019. Under the scholarships, a kindergartener received Bt4,000 a year while a primary, secondary, or vocational student received Bt3,000 a year.

EEF continues to provide scholarships, while also seeking help from allies like Artiwara in a bid to boost educational opportunities for underprivileged kids.

Curbing the dropout crisis

About 57,000 students dropped out of school this academic year, according to a survey conducted by EEF and Office of Basic Education Commission. However, some of these children were placed back in schools thanks to the efforts of relevant agencies.

Prof Sompong Jitradub, a prominent education specialist, said that if teachers and local authorities joined forces to keep students in the school system, the number of dropouts could fall below 20,000 in academic year 2021.

He said that aside from poverty, behavioral problems and a lack of equipment for online learning was also driving up the number of school dropouts.

He added that some students left school for other reasons, including the need to care for elderly or bed-ridden family members, lack of housing security, and transportation problems. These issues also deserve attention, he said.

Equitable and quality education

For Athapol, education is a public service that the state is duty-bound to provide to citizens. In general, the more people are educated, the better their skills, earnings and mental health.

Athapol said several factors were needed before equitable and quality education could materialize in Thai society. Among them are accountable and reliable political institutions, strong economic and social institutions, and stable families.

“Tackle the root causes of problems,” he concluded. “Don’t rely on charity runs.”

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Thailand Reports Over 700 Omicron Variant Cases

BANGKOK, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health said yesterday that, the country has detected a total of 739 cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, to date, including 488 overseas arrivals and 251 local infections.

Although the majority of new COVID-19 cases reported in Thailand are still those of the Delta variant, more Omicron cases have started popping up, said Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Medical Sciences Department from the Ministry of Public Health.

According to the official, Omicron infections have already been found in at least 33 provinces, of which 19 are known to have cases from local infections. Many of those locally infected patients are linked to transmission from the Kalasin cluster.

Three provinces – Bangkok, Kalasin and Phuket – accounted for more than 60 percent of these Omicron cases.

The Ministry of Public Health urged the people to protect themselves with face masks, social distancing and regular hand washing, as these measures were still proven effective in preventing infection by all COVID-19 variants.

Government officials have been told to work from home after the New Year, while schools may consider resuming online classes, as part of a precautionary measure to keep the country safe from the rising threat posed by the Omicron variant.

Source: Nam News Network

Thailand Reports 740 Omicron Cases In 33 Provinces

BANGKOK, Thailand’ s Public Health authorities warned there could be a spike in COVID-19 cases after classifying the country’s first Omicron cluster in the northeast province of Kalasin as “super-spreader” event.

The cluster was linked to a Thai couple, both aged 47 years old, who returned from Belgium and entered the kingdom via the quarantine-free “Test & Go” programme. The couple visited bars, concerts and markets.

To date, Thailand has reported 740 cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant in 33 provinces in the kingdom including more than 200 cases from Kalasin cluster.

Director-General of the Medical Science Department Dr Supakit Sirilak said the Omicron cases comprised of 489 imported cases and 251 local transmissions.

“To date, we conducted 8,000 COVID-19 tests and found 740 Omicron cases,” he said at a press conference here Wednesday.

Meanwhile, public health ministry permanent secretary Dr Kiatiphum Wongrajit said in the worst case scenario, with little preventive measures such as testing and vaccinations, daily COVID-19 cases in the kingdom could peak to 30,000 with more than 170 deaths.

However, he said COVID-19 cases could hit 10,000 with fewer daily deaths if people comply with the measures in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokesman Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin said government employees will work from home after New Year in bid to contain the outbreak.

He also urged the private sector to follow suit.

Over the last 24 hours, Thailand recorded 2,575 new COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths, bringing the total infections in the kingdom to 2,217,287 and 21,647 fatalities.

Source: Nam News Network

More insurance firms face bankruptcy if COVID-19 insurance claims are not scrapped

The Thai General Insurance Association has predicted that more insurance companies may collapse next year, due to the surging number of claims for compensation for COVID-19 infections, if the Omicron variant spreads across the country.

The association’s president, Anon Wangvasu, said yesterday (Wednesday) that insurance companies as a whole have sustained losses, amounting to 37 billion baht, from compensation claims by people infected with coronavirus, or an average of 3,000 claims a day up to November this year, and the losses are predicted to increase to 40 billion baht by the year end.

He said that compensation claims may surge to 180 billion baht next year, if the Omicron variant spreads quickly and infects several tens of thousands of people each day, in which case several more insurance companies will be unable to shoulder the burden of the claims and will, ultimately, be forced into bankruptcy.

The only way to save them is for the Insurance Commission to rescind the Registrar’s Order and allow insurance firms to scrap the “Find, Pay, End” policies, which enable the insured to claim compensation from the firms when it is proved that they were infected with COVID-19.

The Office of the Insurance Commission has, so far, revoked the licenses of two non-life insurance companies, “The One” and “Asia Insurance”, which defaulted on compensation claims.

Anon claimed that as many as two million insured people will be affected if one more insurance firm collapses.

Last week, dozens of the claimants rallied in front of the office of the commission seeking help, claiming that they may not receive compensation now that two insurance companies have closed.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Thailand Urges All Parties To End Violence Along Thai-Myanmar Border

BANGKOK, Thailand calls for an end to violence in Myanmar as clashes fuel tensions along the Thai-Myanmar border.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Tanee Sangrat said Thailand hoped all parties involved will hold talks and settle their differences as soon as possible.

“Besides that, all parties must restore peace and stability along the border to ensure the people are safe and are able to carry on with the routines,” he said at a press conference here today.

Tanee said local authorities have been working with villagers along the Thai-Myanmar border in Tak province to provide humanitarian aid to Myanmar refugees.

Media reported on Christmas eve, 35 people were murdered and their bodies burned in Kayah State in Eastern Myanmar.

They include four children and two staff members of the humanitarian organisation Save the Children.

As Myanmar’s neighbour, Tanee said Thailand is concerned with the violence in many parts of Myanmar.

Meanwhile, Tanee said Thailand hoped ASEAN and its 2022 chair, Cambodia would bring positive progress to end Myanmar crisis.

Source: Nam News Network

Things you may not know about Thai Hom Mali, the world’s best rice

The pride of the nation, Thai Hom Mali rice (Jasmine Rice) is native to Thailand yet not every Thai knows the history of this delicious grain.

Thai Hom Mali rice has been center stage at international competitions many times, most recently at the World Rice Conference held in Dubai early this month when it was recognized with the World’s Best Rice Award 2021 for a second consecutive year. The global prize underlines the top quality of Thai rice, which has taken home the top prize seven times from a total of13 World Rice Conferences.

Hom Mali is popular in Thailand and abroad. Its name Hom Mali (which translates as jasmine fragrance) could lead people to assume that it gives off the scent of jasmine, but in fact the aroma is pandan or screwpine. The “Jasmine” name actually comes from the color of its grain which is white as the jasmine flower. “Jasmine rice” is the trade name of the two popular varieties grown in Thailand — Jasmine 105 (Hom Mali 105) and RD 15 (Kor Koh 15) – and both varieties have a fragrant aroma.

Many Thai households prefer jasmine rice to other varieties as it is light and fluffy with a delicate texture, and very fragrant after it is cooked. Most of the traditional Thai fragrant rice varieties are in the Indica group which is widely cultivated in many countries of Southeast Asia including Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam. In Thailand, the fragrant rice is cultivated in almost every region, though the award-winning Hom Mali 105 variety hails from the northeast. Not all rice in Thailand is fragrant rice. Of 803 indigenous rice cultivars collected by the Rice Department, 202 were found to be fragrant rice.

An indigenous staple

Historical investigations have discovered rice husks on ancient utensils in many areas of Thailand including at Ban Chiang Archaeological Site in the Northeast province of Udon Thani and at Non Nok Tha in Phu Wiang District in the neighboring office of Khon Kaen. In addition, archaeologists have found mural paintings on the walls of Pha Mon Noi, Khong Chiam District in the Northeast province of Ubon Ratchathani. The paintings portray the planting of grains similar to rice, cultivation, and water buffalos. They are estimated to be around 6,000 years old. The evidence suggests that the indigenous people in the area now known as Isaan, or northeastern Thailand, have been growing rice for six millennia or more.

Thai scholars and Japanese scientists studied traces of rice husks on ancient bricks from 108 archaeological sites in 39 provinces across Thailand, and concluded that the area where Thailand is located today has been growing rice since the year 537 B.E. or the 6th Buddhist century. The study suggests that farmers began cultivating large grain glutinous rice paddy around that time and that later in the Srivijaya Kingdom, people started growing Indica rice or “Khao Jao”. Historians assume the switch to Indica rice was influenced by Khmer culture because rice belonged to the ruling class. However, it has been found that glutinous rice was still being planted later during the Sukhothai period (1238-1438) and rice-growing continued and expanded.

An accidental find

In 1945, Jaroon Tanthawut, a farmer in Phanat Nikhom District of Chon Buri province was selecting rice varieties for planting the following year. The selection was based on his wisdom in rice culture, and indeed even today, farmers routinely keep seeds for future cultivation. Quite by accident, he found a new rice variety and gave it the name as “Khao Hom Mali” in recognition of the long-grain, curled-up tips, clear and glossy exterior, and its fragrant scent and soft texture when cooked.

Its quality attracted many other farmers including a village headman called Khun Thip. In 1951, Khun Thip of Tha Thong Lang sub-district took the seed to grow in Bang Khla district in Chacheongsao province. He later gave the seed to an agriculture district officer Suntorn Seehanoen and the “Hom Mali” rice was sent to be grown in an experimental paddy field in Lop Buri in 1953, and soon after traveled to the North and Northeast of Thailand. The rest is history.

The results show the “Hom Mali” rice was most suitable for Isaan with the best results noted across controlled plots all over the country. In 1959, the Rice Species Consideration Committee approved the variety and named it “Khao Dawk Mali 105” (white jasmine 105) rice and started distributing it to farmers. Two years later in 1961, the Surin province’s rice experimental center began distributing the new rice variety “Khao Dawk Mali 105”. However, its original name Hom Mali became more popular among farmers and before long was the main variety planted in the Thung Kula Ronghai area of the Northeast, covering 3,200 sq. km. in five provinces.

Despite its current success, the country still needs to develop better and cheaper jasmine rice in order to surpass Vietnam, which currently exports 2.5 million tonnes more jasmine rice than Thailand. Thailand’s rice exports in 2021 are estimated at over 6 million tonnes. The Commerce Ministry expects that to increase 7 to 7.5 million tonnes next year.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service