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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        4  June  2011

Saha plans for the AEC

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Saha Group, Thailand's largest consumer products conglomerate, has suggested the new government pay more attention to foreign trade policy and give more weight to trade with China and Asean to cash in on the huge purchasing power when the Asean Economic Community (AEC) takes effect in 2015.

Group chairman Boonsithi Chokwatana said Friday that when Asean's single market takes shape with the lifting of all trade barriers, community products would be major beneficiaries. This creates a huge opportunity for farmers to earn more income.

Therefore, foreign trade policy should be more forward-looking, covering five to 10 years instead of year-by-year as in the past.

"The government should strengthen our country's trade relations with China, the world's fastest-growing economy. There are huge opportunities to export agricultural products to China. Now, the Thai economy is like a fast train already on track, so we should grasp opportunities from this advancing momentum," he said yesterday.

With the formation of the AEC imminent, Thailand is now very attractive for foreign investors as a springboard to expand their businesses and cash in on regional integration, Mr Boonsithi said.

After the March 11 disaster in Japan, many Japanese companies have expressed their intention to move their production bases to Thailand. Therefore, the new government should help them by making the country's infrastructure and logistics and processing systems more convenient and efficient.

At the same time, the government should offer measures to increase people's incomes. "The easy way to increase people's incomes is to make the baht weak. China, Indonesia and Korea are three countries that have been successful in using a weak-currency policy," Mr Boonsithi said.

When the baht is weak, he said, exporters earn more. With more money in their pockets and no worry about foreign-exchange losses, they can afford to be generous with their staff. And when workers have higher salaries, they will spend more.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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