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Cooperation Development with Neighboring Countries

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Thailand holds a strategic advantage that the center of connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region. This positioning allows Thailand to facilitate economic linkages with emerging market, particularly within the BIMSTEC and ACMECS cooperation frameworks. Additionally, Thailand can foster trade and investment opportunities with countries boasting significant consumer markets, such as India and China, given their substantial populations. Therefore, it is an opportunity for Thailand to develop and promote international trade and investment in order to lead to the development of the Thai economy and the economies of neighboring countries under the concept of development without leaving no one behind.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the development of all countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Nearly every country has temporarily closed borders and imposed stringent controls on the movement of people and goods. These measures have had a considerable impact on production and consumption. They have affected various aspects, including tourism, cross-border trade, supply chains, and foreign direct investment. It also affects the consumer behavior of people in the region who have shifted towards spending. By making more use of the advancements in digital technology. It has accelerated the growth of e-commerce and logistics services.

An analysis by International Monetary Fund suggests that economy of developed countries such as the United States, the European Union, and Japan are experiencing economic downturns. These nations are essential export markets for Thailand. Moreover, these countries are increasingly implementing trade barriers, particularly non-tariff measures related to labor and environmental standards, resulting in higher export costs. Consequently, businesses involved in exporting goods to these countries must adapt quickly, leveraging knowledge, capital, and modern technologies.

Amid these shifts in geopolitics and geo-economics, Thailand should emphasize the development of regional cooperation frameworks, including BIMSTEC and ACMECS. These regional cooperation consist of nations with substantial growth potential, abundant resources, and a productive labor force, making them crucial for Thailand’s economic growth and consumption base.

Thailand should also emphasize the development of its e-commerce capabilities by continuously improving digital infrastructure. It is crucial to invest in human resources, enhance logistics systems, and support the transition of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into the digital realm. Additionally, there should be efforts to develop Special Economic Zones in border regions to attract investments that promote sustainable regional production networks. This requires legal and institutional reforms to make border areas more convenient, efficient, and enforceable.

In the southern of Thailand, which has significant potential in terms of tourism and agriculture, the Thai government should prioritize health tourism development and value-added agricultural product transformations. Key crops such as rubber, palm oil, and fruits should be given importance in this endeavor. Thailand should also tap into the vast population base and cultural affinities of BIMSTEC member countries, which are already significant trading partners.

Author
Wimon Punkong
Deputy Executive Director (Academic)
International Institute for Trade and Development (Public Organization)
www.itd.or.th
Publication: Bangkok BIZ Newspaper
Section: First Section/World Beat
Volume: 37 Issue:12506
Date: Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Page: 8 (bottom left)
Column: ” Insight ASEAN”

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