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COMMON CENTS: AEC will bring opportunities, threats to Thai, ASEAN citizens

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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COMMON CENTS: AEC will bring opportunities, threats to Thai, ASEAN citizens | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: THE ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) to be established in 2015 creates a huge potential for the streamlined flow of labor, goods and services, and investment capital. However, along with this opportunity there are also potential threats which Thailand has to be aware of and address. It is my concern that Thailand is not doing enough to prepare and confront these threats in order to fully exploit the possible benefits arising from the country’s entry into the wider ASEAN market.

The fact that both the goods and services markets will be larger means that there are more opportunities available for both Thai business entrepreneurs and workers. Thailand has a domestic market of approximately 63 million people, but after the AEC this market will effectively increase to about 600 million people. If ASEAN succeeds in reducing taxes and tariffs, this will have a considerable advantage to businesses seeking new consumers, as well as increasing economies of scale. For example, Myanmar, where Thai products such as sodas and coffee are already widely sold, should be at the top of the list for Thai businesses seeking to invest. Myanmar has abundant natural resources, oil and natural gas, which also add to its attraction as an investment market.

Moreover, both Thai corporations and migrant workers may be able to adopt new technology and management techniques, for example, those of Singapore and Japan. Competitive Thai workers will also be able to seek employment abroad, where higher payments are guaranteed, which will lead to a higher living standard.

On the contrary, uncompetitive companies, especially the SMEs, are likely to lose their market shares to larger foreign corporations. In addition, since Thailand’s minimum wage rate has risen to 300 baht, investors are likely to change their focus to countries like Myanmar, Laos, or Cambodia where overall production costs are lower. This could lead to a high unemployment rate in Thailand.

At the same time, highly skilled Thai laborers, particularly engineers and doctors, would be likely to seek work in countries like Singapore, where wages and living standards are higher. This brain-drain phenomenon would have long-term negative effects on Thailand’s development.

Thailand may also have to deal with a lack of unskilled laborers in certain industries. For instance, the fishery and construction industries in Thailand rely a great deal on Burmese laborers. If the Burmese government succeeds in creating new jobs within their country, over 800,000 legal migrants and an estimated one million illegal Burmese migrant workers could leave to find employment in their own country. In this case, Thailand would have to come up with persuasive measures to motivate these laborers to stay, such as higher wages or public welfare benefits.

What Thailand needs to do in order to benefit from the AEC is develop its ‘people potential’ as well as encourage and support its business entrepreneurs to explore new opportunities and invest in other ASEAN countries. Thai workers and investors also need to develop proficiency in English or in the other ASEAN languages. Increased technology skills, together with fundamental knowledge regarding other ASEAN countries, are also imperative for Thailand’s success.

Workers will have to improve their skills and training to be more competitive and mobile, especially in seven key high-skill industries (medicine, dentistry, nursing, engineering, architecture, natural, resourcesand geographical exploration, and accounting) that ASEAN has identified.

In conclusion, ASEAN should as well focus on the protection of laborers and foreign investment. It has to widen the range of work permits available and better protect foreign workers in all industries. Thailand and other ASEAN countries should also work toward signing bilateral protection agreements, since it would take a great deal of time and effort for ASEAN to reach an agreement. Furthermore, ASEAN countries must seek to improve their citizens’ civil and social ties to successfully co-operate and act as a cohesive economic entity on the global stage.

Namsai “Aom” Wongsaeree graduated from Thammasart University with first class honors in a BA in Political Science where she majored in International Affairs. She completed an internship at the Thai Consulate General in Shanghai. Now, as a Thai Government Scholarship recipient, she will be studying for an MA in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Tufts University in the United States.

If you have an opinion, view or forecast about the economy – macro or micro – and are qualified to give it, then email the Gazette’s Business desk: swlayne@phuketgazette.net, with ‘Common Cents’ in the subject line.

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO | The Thaiger

“The rules signal greater willingness by countries around the world to rein in big tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter that the governments fear have become too powerful with little accountability.”

India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social.

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The companies are also being made to publish a compliance report each month with details about how many complaints they’ve received and the action they took.

They’ll also be required to remove ‘some’ types of content including “full or partial nudity,” any “sexual act” or “impersonations including morphed images”

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told.

The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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Domestic air passenger numbers double those of January

Maya Taylor

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Domestic air passenger numbers double those of January | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Vietjet

Passenger numbers on domestic flights within Thailand have doubled within a month, rising from 4,000 in January to over 10,000 this month. Having nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels, domestic travel plummeted once more when Covid-19 resurfaced late last year.

Apirat Chaiwongnoi from the Department of Airports says 15 of Thailand’s 29 airports are now operating domestic flights, with more expected to follow. He believes the aviation sector will continue to recover further in the coming 6 months, bolstered by the national vaccine rollout.

Around 120 domestic flights a day are now operating, which is twice the number that were operating at the lowest point in the crisis. Prior to the resurgence of the virus in December, domestic passenger numbers had recovered to 30,000 – 40,000 a day, around 80% of pre-pandemic numbers.

The DoA says airports must continue to adhere to the Covid-19 hygiene measures put in place by the Health Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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