Thailand is ideally positioned to serve as the logistics hub for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is striving to promote its community-building efforts for the integration of the region as a whole.
ASEAN, a market of almost 600 million people, consists of 10 countries, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The Thai government has adopted the policy of “three economic rings and five trade gateways” in its plan to make the most of Thailand’s strategic position within Southeast Asia and its well-developed infrastructure and logistics networks.
The three economic rings consist of ASEAN, ASEAN+3 (China, Republic of Korea, and Japan), and ASEAN+6 (China, Republic of Korea, Japan, India, Australia, and New Zealand).
The five trade gateways provide strong road and rail linkages to Thailand’s neighboring countries and beyond. They include the northern gateway, linking Thailand to Myanmar, Laos, and southern China; the northeastern gateway, linking Thailand to Laos, Vietnam, southern China, and East Asia; the eastern gateway, linking Thailand to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam; the western gateway, linking Thailand to several BIMSTEC countries, particularly Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar; and the southern gateway, linking Thailand to Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
These gateways enhance Thailand’s position in the ASEAN region as a production base and a crossroads for Asian trade. In preparation for Thailand’s role as a regional logistics hub, the Thai government has been developing the capabilities and capacities of the country’s logistic service providers through financial support and training manpower with expertise. It has also encouraged the logistics service providers to build networks that jointly meet requirements across a broad range. These networks will further expand connections with other logistics service providers in ASEAN and other Asian countries to develop more extensive networks and attract business partners.
The efficiency of logistics operations is enhanced through the Government’s introduction and development of e-logistics, paperless customs procedures across the Greater Mekong Subregion borders, and the One Stop Export Service Center, where 15 export-related organizations are located at one place to reduce the time required to obtain export documentation.
One of ASEAN’s largest investment projects now is the development of a deep-sea port at Dawei in Myanmar, which will create a new trade lane with Thailand’s existing Laem Chabang deep-sea port via its western border province of Kanchanaburi. The trade lane will enable the Greater Mekong Subregion countries to gain access to a new trade route towards the West. The Greater Mekong Subregion comprises Cambodia, southern China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.