As one of the founding members of Asean, Thailand has long played an active role in regional development, but it must do more if it wants to achieve meaningful benefits from the Asean Economic Community (AEC).
Improvements in the education system and English-language skills are at the top of the list, in the view of Manasvi Srisodapol, director-general of the Department of Information at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“In consumer products, Thailand is doing quite well across the region. We now can easily find Thai products on our neighbouring countries’ supermarket shelves. However, the areas of education and language ability for Thais are still seen as the main drawbacks for the country,” said Mr Manasvi.
“We need to focus more on human resource development and concentrate chiefly on creativity and innovation issues.”
Thai students’ English-language skills are ranked below those of young people in at least three other Asean countries, according to a survey released last year by Education First (EF), an international language school. Inability to communicate effectively in a more globalised work environment will become a bigger competitive drawback in the future.
In the area of trade, Mr Manasvi said the government was trying to make its customs regime and cross-border trade more efficient with the adoption of new technology and software.
He said harmonisation of standards and technical requirements in Asean needed to be highlighted, as greater intraregional trade is considered the core of economic community building.
Asean governments at the same time should collaborate and support the development of stronger external relations with other potential markets outside the region, such as China, India, Japan, the United States, the EU, Australia and New Zealand, he added.
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Writer: Nithi Kaveevivitchai