26 Oct 2009

PM: Start preparing now for the AEC

Both the public and private sectors must begin preparing for the transformation of Southeast Asia into a single economic entity to be known as the Asean Economic Community (AEC), Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Monday.

Asean member countries plan to launch the AEC to enable the free flow of goods in 2015."All sides need to understand the AEC's agreements and restrictions.

''In most cases, people will say they have little time to adjust when they are enforced," Mr Abhisit said.The government would have to work more closely with the public and private sectors so they would understand the various terms and conditions."I am particularly concerned about some trade and investment agreements relating to the agricultural sector, but I have assigned appropriate agencies to look into the restrictions being placed on us. "Some countries have problems similar to Thailand, while others have tax or work permission problems. There will be negotiations and ways to compensate for the restrictions," he said.Some laws could be applied to protect people affected by the establishment of the AEC.He said Asean member states were determined not to let their internal political problems hold back the regional economy"It's normal for neighbouring countries to have some problems between them.
''There were disagreements at times during the 15th Asean Summit last weekend, but no leaders were hesitant about expanding cooperation," Mr Abhisit said.

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