Independent economist suggests AEC will not see much changes in Thailand, part one
As you read this the countdown to the start of Asean Economic Community (AEC) is now less than five months away. Even so, there are still disquiet in some quarters, suggesting the 31 December start date will in fact be delayed yet again. Hopefully if that is indeed going to be the case, then Asean member states will leave enough time to make a sensible announcement and not simply stay quiet until the last possible minute.
No matter what happens, the AEC will, eventually, become a reality. The big and almost unanswerable question is whether it will make the kind of impact many have expected.
In an article published online by http://www.jfcct.org/, independent economist Saowaruj Rattanakhamfu was given free rein to discuss her views on what the AEC will mean for Thailand in general.
Dr Saowaruj works as a research fellow for the ‘Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), one of only a handful of think-tanks in the country…’ The bottom line from her is that she believes the AEC will not change a great deal of what goes on inside Thailand from the end of 2015 and beyond.
‘Rather than dire warnings of how companies have to prepare for increased competition and liberalisation, her research and knowledge of the AEC regulations has led her to believe that much of this warning is overblown hype.’
The economist was quoted as saying, “I want Thailand to open up several of its sectors. I want it to improve on worker productivity and education and technology. But right now…not much is being done and that won’t change anytime soon.”
As Dr Saowaruj noted -as we have in past articles as well- one of the biggest myths about the AEC is that there will be free flow of labour. “But to this point it is only highly skilled labour that can move,” said Dr Saowaruj. “ And it isn’t that freely.”
Although the AEC will link the 10 member states of Asean, the reality is that internal politics will still play a major role and national sovereignty will not be subverted. So, since any international agreement must still be passed by the parliament in Thailand, it is noticeable that so far only small concessions have been made in many areas.
There are what are termed Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) in place, but only for seven professions: accounting, architecture, dental, engineering, nursing, physicians, and surveying. The agreements signed off by the 10
Asean member states ‘mean licensed and recognised professionals in these fields can move to other Asean countries to practice, but they are still subject to pass that country’s licensing test.’
…Continued next month