2 weeks before this Chinese New Year, I went to Bangkok, or known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon in Thai. Bangkok traces its roots to a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century, which eventually grows to a metropolitan and a world’s top tourist destination. It is fascinating to see how the Old and New Bangkok complement each other beautifully.
Are Entrepreneurs and Businesses Ready for the ASEAN Economic Community 2015 Plan?
From the glittering array of skyscrapers in Sukhumvit to the backpacker heaven Khao San Road, and from the historical Buddhist temples along the Chao Praya River to the weekend crowd in Chatuchak Market, Bangkok portraits itself confidently as the economical and tourism power house of ASEAN. I was intrigued by the pulse of the city just as how my stomach was deeply addicted to the exotic Pad Thai and the authentic Tom Yam Kung.
I admire the way in which Thai people respect their King and own cultures, not to mention how they come back again and again no matter it is a political struggle between the Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts or the catastrophic flood which disrupted the global supply chain of businesses.
Despite just a short 8-day visit to Bangkok, I got to meet up with my partner Nasha’s Thai friends from SUSI (U.S. Institute for Student Leaders on Global Environmental Issues) – Ploi, Piao, Tawin, AEKS and Bell. They are global student leaders as well as aspiring social entrepreneurs. Bell has just founded Onnesse, a unique eco-travel company which provides meaningful experiences in Thailand’s pristine nature by enabling passionate clients to protect the country’s natural treasures through direct interaction with the locals.
Over the meal, we started to talk about AEC (ASEAN Economic Community 2015) and in fact I was quite impressed by how concerned and knowledgeable they are to this issue.
Under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), a single common market of ASEAN countries will be created by 2015. The regional integration”s objective is to create a competitive market of over 600 million people in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Five core elements are outlined in integrating ASEAN into a single market and production base – they are free flow of goods, free flow of services, free flow of investment, freer flow of capital and free flow of skilled labour.
According to the articles in and Business in Asia, AEC will benefit the ASEAN countries should it was to be fully and successfully implemented. AEC will open more regional cooperation and it could be a big gain for Malaysian industries with the greater market opportunities.
All ASEAN countries will be more significant to foreign investors as a single market with 600 million people and at the same time, there will be more opportunities for local SMEs to venture abroad.
No less important is the tourism opportunities for ASEAN under AEC. MICE (Meeting, Incentives, Conferencing, and Exhibition) opportunities are particularly large and countries which have more experience in this area such as Singapore and Thailand could render their assistance to those with weaker MICE experience.
For instance, Penang is catching up in MICE by building 2 international convention centers – the sPICE and The Light Waterfront Convention Center.
Nonetheless, AEC was originally planned to come into force on January 1 2015, but this was later delayed to 31-December 2015. So far, the ASEAN members have only met about 70% economic blueprint for merging their economies into a single trade and investment bloc.
The implementation of AEC is less than 3 years from now.
My question to the businesses in ASEAN – are you ready for the next big thing in 2015? Like it or not, it will be implemented. ASEAN has become the center of attention for global investors especially when the economic growth in the U.S remains sluggish and the future of Euro Zone remains uncertain. So, start preparing and be ready to reap the best advantage out of AEC 2015!
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