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Volume 14, Issue 11

16 - 28 February 2015


What’s Inside:

Few changes in ASEAN Economic Community A

lthough the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is slated to begin in 11 months, it appears that the initial impact will be something of a damp squib. The AEC is essentially a free trade region of 10 Asian countries of which Thailand is a partner and due to commence on December 31, 2015. But many economists say that the real changes are far down the road because of protectionist policies still in force which will continue into the new era. The biggest myth about the AEC is that there will be a free flow of labor across the region. But the whole point is that only highly skilled labor will be able to move – engineers, nurses, doctors, dentists, architects, surveyors and accountants – and even they will have to pass the licensing test of any ASEAN country of which they are not a passport holder. Moreover, any professional intending to work in Thailand must collaborate with a local business and not be independent, yet another reason why the free flow of labor is a myth.

The Thailand Development Research Institute believes that there is no political will to change the regulations any time soon. “Most ASEAN countries, including Thailand, won’t want statutory changes at the beginning. Only Singapore is trying to promote the free flow of skilled labor. Many Thais are afraid they may lose their jobs to foreigners as the service sector opens up, but that won’t happen in the early years.” The Institute adds that there are sound economic reasons for opening up these markets, for example Thailand already has a shortage of nurses, but governments are very reluctant to disadvantage their own populations at this time. Thailand has far to go in preparing its own people for the medium-term impact of the AEC. Little has been done in improving the skills of the workforce or providing better products and services. The common language of the AEC is scheduled to be English, but Thailand has not been active in offering Continued on page 6

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Vol 14 issue 11 16 28 february 2015  
Vol 14 issue 11 16 28 february 2015