In preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC, in 2015, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has stressed the need for Thailand to strengthen its economy by balancing different investments.
She explained that, while Thailand strengthens its exports, it will also look inward to promote its local economies.
The Prime Minister indicated that Thailand could increase its competitive edge by focusing on expanding small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). While it attracts investors to Thailand, the country must also expand investment opportunities for its businesses abroad. She said that the Government, for example, has invited many members of the business sector to travel abroad to realize opportunities for market expansion.
She urged the public and private sectors to work together to ensure that Thailand’s public policy aligns with private interests as much as possible. One way to do so is through workshops, where people from all sectors and provinces come to exchange information on the ASEAN Community.
Regarding “connectivity,” Prime Minister Yingluck emphasized that Thailand must connect its country to other nations. This means that Thailand will create transportation routes, roads, trains, and ferry lines to its ASEAN neighbors. For example, Thailand will develop its economic corridors: the first one from China through Thailand; the second one from Myanmar through Thailand to Laos and Vietnam; and the third one from the southern Myanmar through Cambodia and eventually to India, a huge economic base.
The Prime Minister said that, in order to sustain its growth, Thailand needs to quickly prepare itself economically for regional integration. Once 2015 comes around, she said, ASEAN will be considered a single production base, which will give the region a bigger bargaining chip. It is no mystery that the entire world is now talking about ASEAN because its members are rapidly developing and have a large population base. Thailand is in a unique position to benefit from this integration.
After 2015, she said, producers and business people will be able to choose an ASEAN country where they can decrease their international tax and maximize their profit. Competition will increase, but that also means Thailand has more opportunities to invest in other countries. The Prime Minister called for further study on the niches of each ASEAN country and how Thai people can best maximize their benefits from this integration.
She pointed out that Thailand needs to ready itself, from production to human capacity-building, and said that Thailand must develop the collective ASEAN economy and make it stronger. This would allow the country and the region as a whole to effectively do business with other world economies, such as Europe and the United States.