ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thailand unprepared for AEC
Over the past four years, Thailand has been preoccupied with political divisiveness that has stalled development, while other countries such as Singapore and Vietnam keep moving forward, said TCC chairman Dusit Nontanakorn.
"Their economic development has been moving ahead but the kingdom has been stepping backward," he said.
"In 2015 Asean countries will become a single economy, and if we cannot prepare ourselves to deal with strong regional competitors, Thai businesses would probably fail to stay in the market," said Mr Dusit.
Kiat Sittheeamorn, president of the Thailand Trade Representative, said that by 2015, Asean would have a population of 700 million, up from 580 million now, with GDP growing by 50 percent to US$2.7 trillion.
Mr Kiat said that infrastructure to improve links among the 10 AEC members would require investments of $47 billion, including $41 billion for energy projects and the rest for logistics infrastructure, which would be good opportunities for Thai businesses. However, low awareness by Thai business operators was a serious concern, said Sommat Khunset, secretary-general of the Federation of Thai Industries.
"I am worried about SMEs because they don't even understand what the AEC is," he said, adding that human resources improvements were the most critical need.
"We are not yet ready in terms of language, which is also true for the government sector," said Mr Sommat.
Deunden Nikomborirak, the director of the Thailand Development Research Institute, said trade among Asean countries was still less than it should be as a result of each country's trade barriers.
She said that the governments of Asean countries still protected their domestic industries.
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