Economy and Investment

ASEAN Economic Community

by Duangkamol Buranasomphop

ASEAN Economic Community

What is ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)?

ASEAN signifies continuous economic growth among members. After the attempts to establish ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) have been achieved in 2003, the 8 th ASEAN Summit in November 2002 agreed to set ASEAN direction towards ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), similar to that of the European Economic Community (EEC). At the same time, ASEAN members were encouraged to improve their internal performance towards a more efficient manner.

During the ASEAN Summit 2003, ASEAN Heads of States announced a statement called Bali Concord II, agreeing to move towards ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2020. At the same time, it urged members to move towards free trade on 11 priority sectors of goods and services, including tourism, air travel, automotives, wood based products, rubber-based products, textiles and apparels, electronics, agro-based products, fisheries, IT technology (e-ASEAN) and healthcare.

AEC's Goal

ASEAN will move towards ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2020 under the concept of being a single market and production base, indicating free moves of production materials and products to be manufactured elsewhere utilising resources of each country, including raw materials and joint labour forces under the same single standards of products, criteria, rules and regulations.

Directions towards becoming AEC

The establishment of AEC is a key challenge for Thailand for the next eight years. Thailand will need to prepare and get ready in a number of areas. The previous 15 years of experience in AFTA have been, to a certain level, successful, as far as the expanding volume of trades in ASEAN is concerned. However, investment has not been well achieved due to low level of investment both within and outside ASEAN.

Additionally, China and India are playing a key role in the region. They are considered quite a significant economic and investment attraction especially when compared with a small economy of each individual member of ASEAN. Therefore, it deems necessary for ASEAN to expedite the move towards becoming ASEAN Economic Community, following the EU pattern, where plans will have to be prepared with strong enforcement and different criteria among individual member.

ASEAN needs to get together under ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in order to increase its competitiveness and to prepare ASEAN as a regional centre against powerful nations like China and India. In this regards, ASEAN decides to move towards free trade on 11 priority sectors of goods and services, earlier than originally planned, for demonstration purposes and promotion of outsourcing or manufacturing products that utilise raw materials and parts produced within ASEAN member countries. This is consistent with the plan to move towards AEC. To achieve this, each member country has been assigned as a Country Coordinator as follows: Myanmar for agro-based products and fisheries; Malaysia for rubber-based products and textiles and apparels; Indonesia for automotives and wood-based products; Philippines for electronics; Singapore for e-ASEAN and healthcare; and Thailand for tourism and air travel.

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Duangkamol Buranasomphop

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