Thailand is set to become the next chairing country of ASEAN in 2019. This is sure to have far-reaching positive consequences for the nation in the immediate future and beyond. We look at the ASEAN as an organisation, and how Thailand can benefit from its impending chairmanship.
What is ASEAN?
ASEAN – Association of Southeast Asian Nations
This is an intergovernmental organisation currently composed of ten countries:
ASEAN was formed to promote cooperation between these countries. Furthermore, it aims to provide mutual benefits for the involved nations’ politics, economics, military and security. Singapore is the current chairing nation of ASEAN. The chairing nation is rotated annually and is based on an alphabetical order. Thailand, therefore, is next in line, with Vietnam following in 2020.
How Can Thailand Benefit From The ASEAN Chair?
Thailand last chaired ASEAN in 2008-2009. Since then the country has developed hugely and much has changed. As the country once again takes the chair of ASEAN, they must utilise this opportunity to its maximum potential. As the official ASEAN website states;
“A Member State assuming the Chairmanship shall chair the ASEAN Summit and related summits, the ASEAN Coordinating Council, the three ASEAN Community Councils, relevant ASEAN Sectoral Ministerial Bodies and senior officials, and the Committee of Permanent Representatives.”
This effectively gives Thailand an elevated position of power. Moreover, it gives the nation a chance to drive the organisation forward in a way that will also benefit the country. The below are several ways that Thailand could benefit from their impending ASEAN chair:
Improved international relationships
The international community has certainly taken note of ASEAN. This organisation has become an economic powerhouse within Asia. Furthermore, as the countries continue to develop, more investment opportunities should arise. When Thailand takes the chair, they could use this to forge new international links and strengthen bonds with the ASEAN +3 countries of Japan, South Korea and China.
Improved exposure for Thailand and its economy
ASEAN invites economic development in many forms. The organisation aims to help all 10 member nations benefit mutually. Thailand can push things forward in their favour by inviting investment. Furthermore, many meetings will be chaired within the country throughout the year. This will provide greater media coverage for the country from outside sources – other nations will be able to see how Thailand is progressing.
Push through the ASEAN connectivity plan
Thailand actually initiated the master ASEAN connectivity plan. This plan aims to improve infrastructure, digital innovation, logistics, regulations and mobility of people within the region by 2025. ASEAN connectivity is an ambitious plan and hopes are high in Thailand. Examples of initiatives this plan will bring include implementing smart urbanisation models, improving the speed of supply chains, and improving travel between ASEAN nations. During Thailand’s chairing of ASEAN, the government can really drive the connectivity plan forward.
Improve cooperation and a sense of community within the country
Historically, the citizens of Thailand have not been accommodating to the idea of ASEAN. They are more inclined to have national pride and do not see the importance of ASEAN. The government has created numerous drivers and initiatives to improve awareness of the organisation and attitudes towards it.
Once Thailand becomes the chairing country of ASEAN, the government can hopefully improve opinions and cooperation of Thai citizens. To make ASEAN work effectively, it requires the cooperation of all levels of society – from government officials and businesses to public sector workers and the general public. 2019 will be a time to get everyone on board and to show the people of Thailand that ASEAN really is beneficial to them.
As Singapore concludes its chairmanship, Thailand is set to take over. 2019 certainly looks to be an important year. We hope that it is one that will bring great change to the country, and to ASEAN nations. These changes will hopefully be long-lasting and improve the Thai economy for many years to come.
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