Amid the current global economic volatility and heightened competition, many countries have put economic restructuring high on their agenda to ensure sustainable growth. Adding value to products and services through creativity has been focused on in order to become more competitive at the domestic consumer and industrial levels, a concept being referred to as ;Creative Economy/Industry”.
Globally, creative industries have experienced steady growth and may become a key element to bolstering national competitiveness. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that international trade in creative goods and services had surged to USD445.2 billion in 2005 from USD227.5 billion in 1996, growing at an average rate of 6.4% per year. Developed countries continue to dominate the global market for creative products, accounting for more than 82 percent of the global value. Global trends show that creative industries will emerge as an important driver of growth.
So far, a number of Asian countries, i.e., Singapore, China and Hong Kong have driven themselves toward becoming creative economies. A study by the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) shows that the value of creative industries in Thailand in 1996 totaled THB840.26 billion, or around 11 percent of our GDP. Our exports of creative products and services in 2005 totaled around USD5.5 billion, representing some 1.3 percent of the global value, placed 17th in the global list.
KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) holds the view that the digital content industry is among the more promising creative industries in Thailand. In most developed countries, IT-related industries are the key contributor to creative industries. Here, digital content is expected to become essential toward building a creative economy. In 2008, the global digital content industry was worth USD1.7 trillion. Of this amount, developed countries, e.g., the US, Britain, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan hold the majority of that product output. Despite its limited global market value, the Thai digital content industry has recorded steady growth. KResearch forecasts that the market turnover for computer graphic (CG) animation and games in 2009 may reach THB7.8-9.8 billion, versus the THB4.5-5.7 billion recorded in 2006 – representing 20 percent average annual growth. With the domestic market taking the majority of our digital content output, the export proportion is only 10-20 percent. There are around 100-150 digital content producers, mostly SMEs that employ an aggregate total of around 8,000-10,000 workers. The Thai digital content industry is mainly engaged in producing animation, i.e., short productions and TV programming, followed by general work in CG and special effects for movies and advertisements, as well as that used in computer games, online or otherwise.
KResearch holds the view that our aim of becoming the digital content hub of Asia seems to be achievable. Our opportunity may lie in digital content outsourcing contracts made with overseas companies. Among Thailand's strengths are government support, creative personnel resources, plus the global ;Go Digital” and outsourcing trend. Nonetheless, caution should be observed toward such risks as our relatively low technology infrastructure compared to others and hurdles in capital access, in addition to external threats such as the intense rivalry in the world market. All these weaknesses need to be addressed so that our goal toward becoming the digital content hub of the region will be reached.