ASEAN-Japan Business Week 2021

New Business Opportunities
in BCG (Bio-Circular-Green) Sector in Thailand

May 28th (Fri) 2021 13:30~14:45 (UTC+7)



The final session of the “ASEAN-Japan Business Week” was focused on Thailand's Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economy model including the introduction of this new economic policy and related support measures by the Thai government and call for active investment to Japanese companies. In addition, two Japanese companies doing business in the BCG area in Thailand and key speakers from public organization and financial institution were invited to discuss new business opportunities in the Thailand BCG economy.

In the opening remarks, Mr. Taketani Atsushi, President of JETRO Bangkok and Chief Representative for ASEAN, introduced BCG economy model as Thailand’s key focus on its national agenda. The Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) in this regard, is also strongly promoting the BCG economy model in order to attract the foreign investment as well.

He further emphasized that JETRO Bangkok will continue to support Japanese companies' efforts in this field with expectation that Japanese companies would seize these business opportunities and consider the development of their new businesses in Thailand’s BCG economy.

In the keynote speech, Secretary General of BOI, Ms. Duangjai Asawachintachit introduced the four main pillars of the BCG economy; (1) food & agriculture, (2) materials & energy, (3) health & medicine and (4) tourism. Taking into account of these 4 pillars, the ample opportunities for Japanese companies under BCG economy, can be expected in the fields of smart farming, healthy food, bio-ingredients, biomaterial drugs, medical tourism, bioenergy, biochemicals, etc. In addition, in order to promote the BCG economy, BOI has given attractive investment incentive scheme with various incentives in the BCG field, such as Corporate Income Tax (CIT) exemption for up to 10 years. At last, she expressed the expectations for the active investments from Japanese companies into this field.

In the panel discussion, speakers from the two Japanese companies namely Spiber Inc. and KANEKA CORPORATION, that are the leading businesses in the field of BCG, as well as New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and Mizuho Financial Group took the stage. All speakers discussed the advantages of Japanese companies, business opportunities and issues related to the BCG economy in Thailand and the ASEAN region.

Thailand is a very attractive place for developing BCG businesses backed by abundant raw materials/biomass resources, market size and government’s support measures. Both public and private sector have begun to work on the BCG economy seriously, which required Japanese companies to respond rapidly.

For Japanese companies, there are business opportunities in fields such as biodegradation, biotechnology, thermal recycling and chemical recycling. In Thailand, local companies and foreign companies will be aligned together to create new markets under the BCG economy.

On the other hand, current issues/existing challenges in the BCG field such as lack of cost competitiveness compared to conventional products, and immature business environment were also pointed out. Therefore, further technological development, government support, and international cooperation are required to be considered in the future.

Finally, Executive Vice President of JETRO, Mr. Kitagawa Hironobu delivered closing remarks of the sessions on May 27th and 28th hosted by JETRO. He emphasized that major changes such as digitalization has accelerated against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis which are a continuous trend over the medium to long term rather than a transient phenomenon. Regarding businesses in the ASEAN region, he recommended that it would be workable for Japanese companies to add new perspectives on top of their existing businesses and emphasized that it is critical to build a win-win relationship with local companies/partners with a humble attitude. In addition, he stressed the importance of expanding cooperation between industry, government, academia and financial institution. At last, he stated that JETRO will provide information and advice on the new business opportunities and keep working toward the business development with Japanese companies. He also hopes that JETRO’s sessions help Japanese companies to find and come up with the new business ideas and opportunities in the ASEAN region.

Opening Remarks

Taketani Atsushi (President of JETRO Bangkok and Chief Representative for ASEAN)

竹谷 厚の画像

The Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economy model is the main focus of the Thai government’s policies. This January, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stated that the Thai government had declared the BCG as part of the national agenda. The Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) in this regard is also strongly promoting the BCG economy model in order to attract the foreign investment as well.

From the perspective of Japanese companies, there would be a strong stereotype of Thailand as a manufacturing industry base such as automobile industry and electronics. However, huge investment opportunities in the new field of BCG should be recognized and Japanese companies should actively consider new business in this area.

JETRO Bangkok has also begun to work on the BCG economy in response to the Thai government's new industrial policy especially in supporting the BOI to co-organize the webinar under the theme of digitalization. Through the webinar and one-on-one business session this February, we also promoted the expansion of Japanese businesses on eco-friendly advanced materials in Thailand on the ground. In March, in the field of green business, we organized a webinar on smart energy with the Ministry of Energy, Thailand to discuss cooperation between Thailand and Japan on energy conservation and new energy such as hydrogen.

JETRO Bangkok will continue to support Japanese companies' efforts in Thailand in this BCG field and contribute to the development of Thailand's BCG economy model.

We hope that this session would be helpful for attendees to develop their businesses in Thailand and the ASEAN region as a whole as well as to take another step to promote cooperation and development in the BCG economy.

Keynote Speech

Duangjai Asawachintachit (Secretary General, Thailand Board of Investment (BOI))

Duangjai Asawachintachitの画像

Indeed, Thailand has been a key agricultural producer, it is thus natural for Thailand to take Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) as national agenda. Taking this opportunity, I would like to introduce what kind of business opportunities for Japanese companies in the BCG field.

Given the current situation, sustainability becomes a very important issue for the countries and businesses around the world. For Thailand, we believe that BCG would be our future particularly its strategy for post-pandemic recovery. BCG as Thailand’s National Agenda, we are thus promoting the BCG economy, including (1) the Bioeconomy; involves the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resource into value added products; (2) the Circular Economy; aims at reusing and recycling resources, and (3) Green Economy; determines to keep economy, society and the environment in balance, leading to sustainable development.

Focusing on key enablers for realizing the BCG economy in Thailand, Thailand has always been a key agricultural producer in the world. Such key enablers include richness in biodiversity, competitive food industry, strategic location and connectivity, abundance of bio-based materials such as rice and cassava, as well as supporting science & technology infrastructure.

Within the next five years, the BCG economy is expected to grow which would account for 24% of Thailand's GDP and create 16.5 million jobs. This growth will be backed by the four main pillars; (1) food & agriculture, (2) materials & energy, (3) health & medicine, and (4) tourism. With these four pillars, they are all supported by the cross-cutting technology such as digital technology.

Taking into account of these 4 pillars, the ample business opportunities for Japanese companies under BCG economy can be expected in the fields of smart farming, healthy food/bio-ingredients, biomaterial drugs, medical tourism, clinical research, bioenergy, biochemicals, waste management and recycling etc. Focusing on specific segment such as bioplastics, as Thailand is now the largest production hub for bioplastics in Asia, we therefore are looking forward to getting more players from Japanese companies in the midstream of bioplastics supply chain. With regard to biopharmaceutical industries in Thailand, amid pandemic Thailand has played a great attention to achieve itself as medical hub with high value-added products and technologies such as the production of COVID-19 vaccines and gene therapy. We welcomed more foreign companies including Japan to use Thailand as a production base for biopharmaceutical.

In order to promote the BCG economy, BOI has given attractive investment incentive scheme with various incentives. We are currently running a preferential system with a Corporate Income Tax (CIT) exemption period for up to 8 years on business activities and up to 10 years on activities with targeted core technologies (such as bio-technology or nano-technology). We also offer a short-term programme as investment stimulation measure, such as an extra 5-year period of 50% CIT exemption after the expiry of tax holiday on the investment of not less than one billion baht. In addition, BOI's support schemes also cover a wide range of fields/activities from upstream to downstream which companies could tap into and enjoy BOI benefits in the BCG economy. Productivity Enhancement Incentives was also introduced for reduction of environmental impacts and the adoption of digital technology as key to competitiveness.

In Japan, we have two offices in Tokyo and Osaka, please feel free to contact us.

Panel Discussion


Short Presentations from Panelists

Yurugi Yoshiko (Chief Representative for Asian Region, New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) Bangkok Office)

NEDO is a national research and development agency in Japan established under the umbrella of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in 1980 with missions of "Addressing energy and global environmental problems" and "Enhancing industrial technology". The Bangkok office covers 17 countries including 10 ASEAN countries where we conduct projects. In order to maximize the result of R&D activities, we implements projects through the framework of collaboration among industry, academia and government.

There are mainly three support programs for global demonstration projects: (1) International Demonstration Program on Japan's Energy Efficiency Technologies, (2) Program to Facilitate Private-Sector-Led Promotion of Low Carbon Technology Overseas, and (3) International Joint Research and Development Program on Innovative Technology in Clean Energy. Giving the example of utilizing these schemes in the BCG field in Thailand, I would like to introduce the case of energy-saving cellulosic sugars production demonstration project from surplus bagasse. Bagasse, also known as residue, left after extraction of juice from sugarcane, is used as a raw material for bioethanol production, which can also produce high value-added products such as polyphenols and oligosaccharides. With this project, we expected to achieve 50% energy consumption saving, compared to that of a conventional evaporation process.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding NEDO's support programs, please feel free to contact the NEDO Bangkok office.

Sekiyama Kazuhide (Director and Representative Executive Officer, Spiber Inc.)

Our company is founded in 2007 as a university spin-off, with approximately 260 employees including in Thailand.

By combining 20 types of amino acids, proteins can be designed for diverse kinds of raw materials and a wide range of uses. The first mass production plant was built in Thailand because of the abundant protein raw materials such as sugar cane. Our key technology is a fermentation process to produce a protein-based product so-called “Brewed Protein”. This Brewed Protein is a bio-based material that use no fossil resources with excellent biodegradability causing no negative impact on marine ecosystem. With this strength, there are strong need from global apparel industry which are more environmental-friendly material. In addition, as a kind of lightweight material/fiber, its application for transportation equipment is also promising.

We decided to enter Thailand in 2018 and finally began to operate a mother plant with an annual production capacity of over 100 tons, in March this year. In this regard, we expected to start its full-scale commercial production by the end of this year.

We believe that the BCG economy will be one of the leading global trends in the future. Our company will thus act as a world class player in the field of proteins and push forward this endeavor in Thailand.

Miwa Motokazu (General Manager, Global Planning & Marketing, Green Planet Project, KANEKA CORPORATION)

As a chemical manufacturer, we have developed a wide range of businesses, from food, clothing fiber, and housing to medical care. Amid growing concerns over the plastic waste issues, we would like to contribute it with our biodegradable polymers named “Green Planet”.

Green Planet is material with 100% bio-based and high biodegradability under various conditions. Green Planet is produced by microbial fermentation from plant oils. Green Planet is biodegraded into water and CO2 by micro-organisms, even when leaked into the environment. It biodegrades not only in soil, where microorganisms are abundant, but also in seawater, where biodegradation has been considered difficult. The speed of decomposition varies depending on the product and the environment, for instance, straws using Green Planet were able to be decomposed within 3 months in the seawater around Hyogo Prefecture.

We are obtaining the certifications for biodegradation of Green Planet in major markets. For instance, in Europe where certification standards are well developed, we have obtained four types of biodegradability certifications from soil to marine, as well as the biomass-based and food contact certifications. While in Thailand, we are currently in the process of acquiring FDA certification for food applications.

Green Planet can be easily molded like conventional fossil-based plastics. We utilize it for producing shopping bags, straws, tray, and cutleries etc.

As our business originally started in Japan, followed by the United States and Europe, we also however fully recognize that Southeast Asia is also a major market, which we hope to further strengthen/expand our business activities in the future.

1st topic: Attractions and Market Trend in Thailand

  • Mr. Kubota Yasuhiro (Managing Executive Officer, CEO for Asia & Oceania excl. East Asia, Mizuho Financial Group, Inc. / Mizuho Bank, Ltd.)

  • Investment related to the BCG economy from Thai local companies as well as foreign companies including Japan is growing steadily, fueled by the fact that SDGs & ESG are becoming more common, along with stringent regulations on waste plastics and climate change in many countries.

    Thailand ranks as the 6th global contributor to marine plastic waste, which is also recognized as a social issue. In 2019, Thailand formulated a roadmap on plastic waste management. In January this year, the Thai Prime Minister also announced the BCG economy as a part of Thailand’s National Agenda, implying that Thailand positions the BCG economy not only as an environmental policy but also as a key driver for the country’s growth. Thai companies are involved in a wide range of activities, including chemical recycling, recycled plastics and biomass energy and both government and private sector have seriously worked on the BCG economy, which require us to respond rapidly in terms of investment.

  • Mr. Sekiyama (Spiber Inc.)

  • We chose Thailand as our mother plant because of the stable procurement of good quality raw materials.

    In addition, the supply chains of both apparel and transportation equipment industries, are well established in Thailand as also aligned with our focus.

    Last but not least, the continued support of Thai government is also major factor for our decision on its factory location and future possible expansion.


  • Thailand is an economically developed country with a geographical advantage in Southeast Asia, where exists a great demand for plastics.

    Furthermore, under Thailand's policy of being a tourism-oriented country, the people cherish the natural environment including the ocean, which well corresponds with our values and biodegradable products.

    As per our company’s successful products, we establish factories covering worldwide demand in four regions; Japan, the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia, and in the future, we would like to produce Green Planet in Thailand and other ASEAN countries.

  • Ms. Yurugi (NEDO)

  • Among the four pillars of the BCG economy introduced earlier by Ms. Duangjai of BOI, we could see the promising businesses especially in the fields of food & agriculture and health & medicine. For example, in Thailand, soybean-based meat, bean-based dairies, special sugars for diabetics, etc. are being developed one after another. In addition, unique developments such as inspection of contaminants in drinking water and water purification via animal bones are being carried out.

    The Thai government also plans to introduce recyclable biomass-derived plastics by 2030, with prediction of increasing demand for biochemical products in the future.

    In my opinion, the combination of these technologies for (1) efficiently manufacturing primary processed products, as well as final products from abundant bioresources, (2) stable supply of crops and other materials, and (3) digitalization, will be very promising in Thailand in the future.

2nd topic: Competencies of Japanese Companies in the BCG Economy


  • We rather see other companies in the same industry manufacturing biodegradable plastics as our partners to expand the new market together. We sometimes use biodegradable plastics from other companies because each material/product has its own characteristics and different merits/demerits. Among various biodegradable plastics, the strong feature of our Green Planet is the ease of decomposition in seawater.

    We have also been engaged in fermentation technology as well as plastics production for a long time. Accumulated technologies and know-how in both fields are our core competence enabling us to develop Green Planet.

    We also focus on being a healthy company and would like to consider a wide range of possibilities for collaboration with various companies.

  • Mr. Kubota (Mizuho Financial Group, Inc. / Mizuho Bank, Ltd.)

  • There are four high potential areas that Japanese companies could succeed at ;(1) Biodegradable Plastics, which is a hot topic today. (2) Biotechnology, including the areas of agriculture and healthcare, apparel, cosmetics, fragrances, food additives, and so on. The remaining two are (3) Thermal Recycling and (4) Chemical Recycling. Thermal recycling is a kind of approach which pursues short-term outcome, while chemical recycling aims for realization of a full-scale circular economy in the long-term future.

    Regarding thermal recycling, currently, final disposal of waste is not properly done in Thailand. This is where Japanese plant engineering companies with technical capabilities and expertise can contribute.

    Regarding chemical recycling, Thailand's first demonstration plant went into operation this January, and the technology is expected to become widespread. Japanese companies can contribute in such field with gasification technology and the technology that can return raw materials to monomers.

3rd topic: Current Issues of Business Development in the BCG Field


  • The cost competitiveness of petroleum-based plastics is very high. As a private company, we will certainly make our efforts to reduce the cost and scale up the biodegradable plastics. We believe that we can accelerate our business if there is a government support measure in terms of cost.

  • Mr. Sekiyama (Spiber Inc.)

  • I agree with Mr. Miwa. The society, as a whole, has to bear the cost to some extents because it is related to petrochemical products which however would not be reflected in the consumers’ prices. In this sense, the introduction of plastic tax should be considered which its tax revenue collection could be used for innovation enabling to also accelerate the diffusion of BCG related products.

  • Ms. Yurugi (NEDO)

  • I would like to introduce the international demonstration support programs again. As a first step, we provide support for investigation on policy and business environment in a particular country. In addition, NEDO and the local government/counterpart will sign a MOU in order to raise awareness of the project in the local government/counterpart and lay the foundation for cooperation among stakeholders for future dissemination.

    For example, as the increasing number of used vehicles, also called ELV (end-of-life vehicle), in Thailand along with inefficient dismantling process and system, we thus started the demonstration project of an ELV recycling system. We cooperate with Thai government to establish efficient dismantling process and international resource circulation system as well as institutional design.

    Under such support framework, NEDO will support Japanese companies to enter the new markets.

  • Mr. Kubota (Mizuho Financial Group, Inc. / Mizuho Bank, Ltd.)

  • Green business is not an easy one. Energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the ASEAN region are expected to increase in the future. Amid the increasing energy demand, it is necessary to make a long-term plan to introduce low-carbon and decarbonization technologies.

    According to “Thailand Power Development Plan 2018-2037”, before 2037, 60% of the newly developed energy sources will be renewable energy and gas-fired power. The number of companies which have declared carbon neutrality in the medium to long term is increasing. We can also see momentum of development in distributed power sources including EVs and smart grids. Thailand is relatively advanced in the green field in SEA.

    However, for the whole ASEAN region, efforts in the green field are still limited and require more medium- to long-term efforts through international cooperation especially in term of planning and local governments’ measures/incentives on decarbonized projects.

Closing Comments


  • Realizing economic growth and responding to environmental issues should be pursued hand in hand. From a business perspective, we will do our best to contribute to the protection of beautiful natural environment.

  • Mr. Sekiyama (Spiber Inc.)

  • We have been accumulating technologies with the NEDO’s support for many years. We would like to create a larger industry by combining the seed of our technologies with Thailand's abundant bioresources.

  • Ms. Yurugi (NEDO)

  • There are many business opportunities in the BCG field in SEA. In the course of accelerating technological innovation, we think that the term “premature” is unnecessary in the process of introducing new RD&D projects. In order to move into next stages, please make full use of NEDO's support programs.

  • Kubota (Mizuho Financial Group, Inc. / Mizuho Bank, Ltd.)

  • Most of the Thailand companies have declared the SDGs and the BCG economy as their growth strategies with possible collaboration/partnership with Japanese companies. We thus would like to support the companies interested in the BCG economy especially in the areas of market research, partner referrals, and funding.

Closing Remarks

Kitagawa Hironobu (Executive Vice President, JETRO)

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The COVID-19 crisis has so far accelerated digitalization and created changes to new fronts including lifestyles, consumers’ behaviors, mobility and manufacturing. Such changes are not transient phenomena and would remain for years to come.

Today, I would like to share three important perspectives.

1) Innovation and sustainability as major trends of today is an extension of existing production and exports and market activities. For instance, the production line efficiency and sales data visualization with digital technologies are the trends in current manufacturing industry. However, it is not always necessary for the manufacturing companies to have digital expertise/professionals on their own. There is also a new approach, which is cooperating with ASEAN innovative companies as partners to promote digitalization. In this regard, adding the new perspectives to existing business operation would be the first step.

2) Digital and sustainability related efforts in SEA region are revolutionizing the way we do businesses. There are diverse needs in a wide range of fields in SEA region as a whole, which requires Japanese companies to change the approach of businesses. It is thus necessary for Japanese companies to build a win-win relationship with a humble attitude to learn from local partners.

3) Since it is difficult for private companies to step into new areas from scratch, we believe that collaboration between industry, government, academia, and financial institutions is indispensable for expanding new businesses in the ASEAN region at this turning point. In addition to webinars like this ASEAN-Japan Business Week, various support measures from public organizations (e.g. economic organizations, SME organizations, and JICA, etc.) are also effective. JETRO will continue to provide information and advice on expanding new business opportunities as well as to work toward their realization of trade and investment, market development, and expansion support, etc.

We have delivered the real scenes of the excellent young leaders in moving toward the building of a new economy and society in the ASEAN region. We also hope that this session would give you the inspiration to find the new business ideas and opportunities in the ASEAN region.

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