Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has left for Indonesia on the second leg of her tour of ASEAN neighbours to introduce herself upon the assumption of office.
Ms Yingluck is today meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yodhoyono during which she will reaffirm the Thai-Indonesian cooperation in political, economic and cultural fields. The two are expected to discuss future cooperation guidelines, especially the strategic partnership between the two countries.
Thailand and Indonesia has maintained good relationship at all levels and dimensions, particularly under the ASEAN framework. During the visit, Prime Minister Yinkluck will also lay a wreath at Heroes Monument of Surabaya before returning to Thailand this evening.
Ms Yingluck visited Brunei Darussalam on September 10, her first overseas visit as Thai prime minister. The two countries agreed to exchange knowledge, technology and cooperation in education, medical services and agriculture. Brunei also showed interest to import more Thai rice.
The Thai Prime Minister is scheduled to visit Cambodia on Thursday and Laos on Friday.
Asean as a single entity, would be a country of 600 million people
The Asean Economic Community AEC is the cornerstone of the three pillars of integration – economic, security and socio-cultural. A successful AEC would be a basis for the other two pillars because it would boost income growth across the region that is necessary to underwrite regional security. Successful economic integration would also drive the movement of ideas and bring the envisioned Asean social community into being.
If Asean functioned as a single economic entity, it would be an “economic country” of 600 million people and boast a GDP of US$1.8 trillion. It would be Asia’s third largest economy and a cultural and trading bridge between China, India, the Middle East and the Pacific.
In terms of regional economic integration, ASEAN is a significant market of 580 million consumers, which will benefit from the remarkable economic momentum and progress of China and India. The target for ASEANs economic integration is 2015.
When Indonesia took the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in January, it could not have asked for a more challenging task than to deal with the military clashes which have erupted between Thailand and Cambodia over a border dispute.
Not so long ago, Thai tourists were greeted by Cambodian military police officer at Preah Vihear temple. The temple is now off limits to tourists.
Jakarta had some grand designs when it asked Brunei to swap places for the right to chair the regional grouping as Indonesia’s turn was not due until 2013. But as Asean under Indonesia’s chairmanship forges ahead with the creation of an Asean Economic Community by 2015, the clashes on the Thai-Cambodian border are a reminder of the many territorial disputes among its 10 members that for much of its 44-year history have been swept under the carpet.