Strengthening the Thai Economy in Advance of the ASEAN Economic Community (14/06/2012)
The public and private sectors have been urged to work out jointly a solid foundation for the Thai economy toward the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community.

The call was made by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who stressed the Government’s policy of investment and export promotion, with an emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to enhance Thailand’s competitiveness.

In her address at a seminar on the topic “National Agenda: The New Era of the Thai Economy in the ASEAN Economic Community,” the Prime Minister said that she had assigned the Ministry of Commerce to work with the private sector in collecting information about impacts of the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 to Thai SMEs and various industries. The seminar was organized recently by the Ministry of Commerce at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok.

The Prime Minister stated that the 10 ASEAN members were growing rapidly with greater purchasing power, which is attractive to investors. She believed that Thailand would be at an advantage because of its readiness in terms of production quality, labor skills, and reasonable prices. Moreover, the country serves as the gateway to the ASEAN region. She stressed the need to strengthen the Thai economy and build self-immunization from external threats.

Mr. Virabongsa Ramangkura, Chairman of the Strategic Formulation Committee for Reconstruction and Future Development, said that Thailand was quite well-prepared for ASEAN integration. He believed that there would be gradual changes, as part of adapting to the ASEAN Economic Community and that greater competition would be seen in ASEAN companies, while transnational firms would have greater opportunities to expand their businesses in this region.

Mr. Virabongsa said that labor skills in ASEAN countries needed to be improved to cope with more competition. The use of English for communication will be required in the education system. He said that although ASEAN would see greater competition within the region, it would have a greater role to play, together with greater bargaining power, in the international arena. The United States, the European Union, and even China are likely to be interested in negotiating with ASEAN as a region, instead of individual countres.

Since changes would not come abruptly, Mr. Virabongsa said that they should not become a matter of concern. He urged Thai investors to prepare to invest more in the ASEAN region. He was confident in Thailand’s competitiveness in the region and its readiness to become part of ASEAN integration. This could be seen from economic crises in the past and severe floods in 2011, when Thailand had shown that it could recover very quickly.

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