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Phuket In Focus: AEC is coming – are you ready?

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket In Focus: AEC is coming – are you ready? | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: In 2015, the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) – Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam – will formally integrate their economies as part of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) initiative.

The AEC will be similar to the European Economic community (EEC) where participating countries aim to develop and maintain a single, unified production base and market.

According to the AEC blueprint, the region will enjoy a free flow of goods, services, investment, capital, and skilled labor, as to become a competitive economic region, have equitable economic development and integrate into the global economy.

Under this integrated framework, Asean citizens working in seven fields will be eligible to pursue employment and investment opportunities throughout the Asean region.

These fields are: engineering services, nursing services, architectural services, surveying services, accountancy services, dental practitioners, and medical practitioners.

With less than a year and a half to go, many unskilled and/or under-qualified Thais are concerned about their future prospects – after all, Thais have a general disadvantage when compared to their counterparts in neighboring countries, particularly in terms of English language ability.

But the question remains – Is it hopeless or hopeful for the Thai population?

“Joining the AEC in 2015 will bring both positive and negative effects, but Thai people should not be afraid,” insists Prakong Rakwong, chief of the Phuket Provincial Commerce Office.

“Some career paths will be more advantageous while others will be less. Anyway, we need to grow up and face reality. Our economy has to grow up, we can’t just trade with our own domestic markets,” he said.

“All we need to do is to prepare our people by providing some necessary knowledge about trading within the AEC,” he added.

The AEC will soon make it easier for investment, facilitating the free flow of products, services and labor among Asean countries.

For example, there will be no tax on certain imports, with exceptions for products placed on sensitive lists, which can be taxed between zero and five per cent.

These products vary from country to country, for example, in Thailand there will be four kinds of sensitive items – cut flowers, potatoes, coffee and copra.

Thailand is a major hub for tourism in the Asean region and Phuket itself is a very popular destination with many attractions. As such, it is expected that in 2015 there will be many more tourists coming to Thailand and Phuket, largely people from neighboring Asean countries.

It is also expected that Thailand, and Phuket in particular will see a major influx of foreign labor seeking work in the hospitality and construction industries.

Phuket Chamber of Commerce secretary, Surachai Chaiwat told the Gazette that most tourists from Asean member countries will probably go to Bangkok because it’s Thailand’s capital city and because Phuket is an expensive city.

“Probably, more people who speak good English will come to Phuket for work,” he says.

“Phuket’s economy is already over and beyond AEC. In fact, it is an international city. Phuket itself contributes 30 per cent [about 200-300 billion baht] of Thailand’s gross income from tourism, about 700-800bn baht last year”.

“In the future when the airport expansion [project] is finished, there will be 12-20 million people flying in to Phuket, up from 7-8 million tourists currently. These numbers show that we do not have enough workers to serve the tourists, so Phuket, indeed, will need more workers.

“At the same time, it’s crucial to develop our people skills to be ready for AEC,” he added.

After AEC becomes effective, trade in the tourism, transportation and the car industry is expected to increase by approximately 25 per cent.

The agriculture, construction and textile industries may feel the effects, because Thailand’s production base may be moved to other countries which have lower wages.

In fact, for many large Thai businesses that aren’t dependent on high-skill labor, such as those in the textile industry, it is only inevitable that their production lines will look to source the cheapest, unskilled labor available.

President of the Real Estate Sales and Marketing Association of Thailand, Dr Pairote Sukjan said that labor will definitely be an issue for Thailand in the AEC.

“Thailand’s minimum wage rate is quite high at 300 baht per day. And so, we attract outsiders to come to work in Thailand.

“But as Thailand has never been colonized – unlike Malaysia, Singapore, or Myanmar – many Thai people don’t speak very good English and that can be a big problem for them,” he concluded.

Keep checking the Gazette’s business pages for the latest local and national business news updates affecting Phuket and Thailand. Alternatively, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter.

— By Anthika Muangrod

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. 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. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

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

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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.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

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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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