Vast business and investment opportunities are seen in Thailand following the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. Japanese investors have been urged to expand their investment in Thailand, as they would benefit from a wider ASEAN market in the next few years.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told Japanese investors that AEC would lead to a major change in economic structures in the region. Thailand would see greater opportunities in terms of economic connectivity with neighboring countries and other ASEAN partners. She said that since Japan used Thailand as one of its production bases, with dependence on Thai labor force and raw materials, it would be provided with the right to enjoy benefits from AEC in the years ahead.
AEC commands a combined GDP of two trillion US dollars, and a combined market of 600 million consumers
In other related news, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said that AEC commands a combined GDP of two trillion US dollars, with a total trade value of 2.1 trillion dollars, a combined market of 600 million consumers, a rising purchasing power, an expanded middle class, and an enormous amount of savings, both among the people and in national coffers. In 2010, alone, ASEAN collectively attracted over 75 billion dollars in foreign direct investment into its economies.
He pointed out that many multinational corporations have moved into capitals of ASEAN to set up their regional headquarters or have established in their head offices at home a special unit just to take advantage of the dynamic AEC. Mr. Surin stressed the need for Thailand to urgently produce human resources for the ASEAN market so as to enhance its competitiveness.
Since English is the working language for ASEAN, Thai people should improve their proficiency in English and learn the languages of other ASEAN members. He explained that the establishment of AEC would not be complete after 2012, but the next step would be work in progress. He suggested that, following the realization of AEC, the Office of the Board of Investment of Thailand should focus on encouraging Thais to invest more outside the country, especially in other ASEAN countries, instead of placing an emphasis on encouraging foreign investors to invest in the country.