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Era of the AEC: Scenarios, Stakes and Strategies


Era of the AEC: Scenarios, Stakes and Strategies


Tuesday, 31st March 2015 at 09.00am – 05.00pm

Plaza Athénée Bangkok, A Royal Méridien Hotel













8:30am                                           Registration and Coffee




9:00-9:15am                                   Introductory Remarks
  Mr. Ken Koyanagi

  Publisher, Nikkei Asian Review


9:15-10:00am                                 Keynote and Q&A
  Dr. Surin Pitsuwan

  Former Secretary General,
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)                                     



10:00-10:30am                               Coffee Break




10:30-12:00pm                               Panel I: Outlook for Regional Economies in the AEC Era

Mr. Kavi Chongkittavorn

Senior Fellow,

ISIS Thailand

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ruth Banomyong

Head, Department of International Business, Logistics and Transport,

Thammasat Business School

Mrs. Kesara Manchusree


The Stock Exchange of Thailand        

Dr. Jayant Menon

Lead Economist,

Asian Development Bank

                                                      Moderator: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak
                           Director, ISIS Thailand



12:00-01:30pm                             Buffet Lunch



12:30-01:00pm                             A Luncheon Conversation: The ASEAN Political-Security Community
and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community

                                                      H.E. Mr. Lutfi Rauf
Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia
to the Kingdom of Thailand

                                                      H.E. Ms. Jocelyn S. Batoon-Garcia
Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines 
to the Kingdom of Thailand

                                                      Moderator: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak



01:30-03:00pm                            Panel II: Nikkei Asian Review’s “ASEAN100” Ranking – Seeing ASEAN as AEC

Mr. Tassapon Bijleveld

Chief Executive Officer,

Thai AirAsia







Mr. Pipit Aneaknithi

Executive Vice President,


Mr. Surong Bulakul

Chief Operating Officer of     Infrastructure,








Dr. Sarasin Viraphol

Executive Vice President,

Charoen Pokphand Group

Moderator:  Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pavida Pananond
                                 Associate Professor of International Business, 
Thammasat Business School                             



03:00-03:30pm                             Coffee Break




03:30-05:00pm                             Panel III: How CEOs see Industry and Business in the AEC

Mr. Kyoichi Tanada


Toyota Motor Thailand

Mr. Darren Buckley

Country Head,

Citibank Thailand







Stephen Jaggs

Managing Partner,

Allen & Overy (Thailand)

Mr. Serge Pun

Executive Chairman,

Yoma Strategic Holdings,








Moderator:  Ms. Gwen Robinson
         Senior Asia Editor, 
Nikkei Asian Review, and 
         Senior Fellow, ISIS Thailand




The public forum will be held in English only


Power Point Presentations

Effects on the Auto Industry and Toyota’s Strategy (Mr. Kyoichi Tanada):

 Allen & Overy in ASEAN (Stephen Jaggs):

Outlook for Regional Economies in the AEC Era (Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ruth Banomyong)

The ASEAN Economic Community: Progress and Challenges (Dr. Jayant Menon):

Outlook for Regional Economies in the AEC Era (Kesara Manchusree):



 Videos: Era of the AEC: Scenarios, Stakes and Strategies

Keynote: Surin Pitsuwan:

Panel I: Outlook for Regional Economies in the AEC

Panel II: Nikkei Asian Review’s “ASEAN100” Ranking – Seeing ASEAN as AEC:

Panel III: How CEOs see Industry and Business in the AEC:


If you wish more detailed information concerning this seminar please click




Introductory Remarks

Mr. Ken Koyanagi


Nikkei, as a Japanese daily newspaper, is determined to become a major regional publication. Last year it
established its business headquarters in Singapore and its editorial headquarters in Bangkok. Why did
Nikkei choose these sites? It is very closely related to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Nikkei chose
Singapore as its business headquarters because it has fewer regulations than its neighbours, it has simpler
labour laws and has a tax advantage, despite it not being the best country for a media organisation to operate.
As ASEAN member countries are able to abolish tariffs and non-tariff barriers, potential business opportunities will grow.




Despite the potential, there remains much scepticism about the AEC. There is an AEC scorecard which has filled
out around 60-80% in most countries, but time is running out before the December 31, 2015 deadline.
The ‘to-do list’ is very long, particularly with regards to non-tariff barriers, and free flows of people and services,
which are only slowly improving.



People are still debating whether it is the right time to launch the AEC at the end of this year, but the AEC will
always be a work in progress. It is not a scheme that can be launched in one shot on one day, but it will take time.
We are already in the Era of the AEC, but we now have to talk about how we are going to manage and organise
this new community in Southeast Asia.








Dr. Surin Pitsuwan [Transcript]

“For the last seven years I have been the spokesman of not only ASEAN, but also East Asian integration as a whole.
Looking back at the evolution of Europe, you needed champions of the idea of the vision of Europe. Europe was
able to bring in people from a cross-section of European political ideologies – the Christian Democrats, the Social
Democrats, Communists, Socialists, all colours working towards one Europe. Henry Kissinger once made a
statement that East Asia – as far as growth, technological advances, innovation – is equivalent to 20th Century
Europe. But as far as systems, processes and institutions, to take care of the problems among them and between them,
he said that East Asia is still 19th Century Europe. This means that we need to build institutions, systems and processes
in order to bring us together, integrate and take advantage of all the potentials we have in the region. East Asia is
now the centre of gravity, and ASEAN happens to be right in the middle. East Asia is expected to be the ‘new locomotive’
to pull the global economy out of the crisis we have had since 2008.




ASEAN has something called the ‘Convening Power.’ No other country or dialogue partner could call a meeting and
everybody would want to come, because they have problems or historical baggage between and among themselves.
But when ASEAN calls a meeting, everybody would want to come. Europe is still knocking on the door for entry to the
East Asia Summit.




Why is AEC so important, being hyped so much and is so attractive? Because AEC is the raison d'être of the ASEAN
Community. It is the reason for the ASEAN Community. I remember in the 1980s, leaders of ASEAN were using the phrase,
“The oxygen of foreign investment has been diverted out from Southeast Asia to Northeast Asia, China, and West Asia
to South Asia.” Foreign Direct Investment had been the main reason for growth, industrialisation and transformation in
Southeast Asia. Now without becoming one integrated, holistic market, Southeast Asia and ASEAN would not be able to
compete with China or India. So, from the very beginning it was the raison d'être, the reason for the being of the
ASEAN Community. Why is it so attractive? Because it is so concrete and relevant: it is about pocketbooks, income,
prosperity and employment, therefore everyone is interested in the AEC.




How much have we achieved? A great deal. You could only think about Southeast Asia without ASEAN. How much more
do we have to do? A lot more, but ASEAN and the AEC are here to stay. AEC comprises of companies like AirAsia, like
CIMB, Bangkok Bank, ThaiBev. These are the components that make AEC a reality. They are already moving into the
region. When you land at Bangkok Airport there is a big sign from Bangkok Bank saying, “Local Expertise, Regional
Aspiration.” CIMB says, “ASEAN For You: 2.4 Trillion USD Combined.” UOB is all across Southeast Asia already. These
companies are components that make AEC a reality.




We have a long journey ahead. The problem with ASEAN is that leaders, ministers and bureaucrats conceive these things
probably with little support, awareness or participation from the private sector. The private sector is waiting for the AEC
to be a finished product, wrapped in a beautiful ribbon. This will not happen. Ken Koyanagi is right, it will always be a
work in progress, which is much like the European Union. The EU is now trying to improve upon the areas where it is
imperfect. ASEAN is a community in search of perfection continuously into the future, much like everything else. But ASEAN
has a lot to achieve and to do. Of 2.5 trillion USD that we trade, we only trade among ourselves a quarter of that.
An economic community cannot be sustainable at this level. Compared to NAFTA and the EU, we are far behind in terms
of intra-ASEAN trade. We have tried to increase this for a long time.




We have to focus on the opportunities and potentials on the landscape. We need to encourage and support our SMEs
to cross borders. We need to encourage our young people to cross borders – ASEAN is not for the old generation,
now it is for the young generation to step up to speak in the ASEAN and global market places. We need to integrate
with the global trading system.




There are four goals for the AEC, the first being an integrated market. Second, we have to be competitive, otherwise
we won’t be able to compete with China, India, Africa or Latin America. Third, we must be equitable between ourselves.
This is difficult, because from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to Singapore is a per-capita GDP difference of 54,000
USD per year. That gap is too wide for a community to be sustained. There is also internal inequity between ourselves:
a country like Thailand for the past 13 years has had deep problems between the periphery and the centre, between
urban and rural areas. We couldn’t really have a stable, continuous or effective governance system that could bring the
best out of this ‘Land of Smiles.’ Inequities inside is critical for every ASEAN country. Fourth, is to be able to integrate
seamlessly and effortlessly with the global trading system. You can only integrate with the global trading and production
system if you improve your standards and change your legal systems to accommodate the rest. You can’t ask for access
to the rest of the world’s markets if you close your own. It has to be a two-way street. That is the logic of globalisation.




So, according to the scorecards, we have achieved more than 80% of our goals, but the measurement is only at the level
of agreements and ratification of those agreements at the national level. It is a long way from national ratification or legislative
bodies, to the full implementation of those agreements across borders.




ASEAN has stopped short of saying there will be a free flow of people because of its wide inequities. Europe has free flow of
people, but it still has problems with a general trend for people to move into Western Europe. ASEAN learned the lesson from
Europe, so came up with the idea for free movement of skilled labour. And yet, economies of ASEAN need labour from each
other. The fact that it is inequitable means that it can help each other with raw materials, expertise and labour. Thailand
alone has about 3-5 million foreign workers, many of whom are illegal. Many of these workers are working in the jobs that
Thais no longer want to work in. The fishing industry in Samut Sakorn has more foreign workers than Thai nationals. If this
labour walked out tomorrow, the Thai fishery industry and food production business would flop. We have these problems,
but we need to find the balance, help each other and rationalise the foreign worker market ourselves. We need to protect
them, give them support, welfare and human rights.




About 140 billion USD per year comes from outside the region. Going where? Not Thailand, the second largest and
most diversified country in ASEAN, nor to Indonesia, the largest economy in the region. Why? Because of the lack of
transparency in these countries. Where does it go then? Singapore, because it guarantees it will be transparent. Of the
140 billion USD that comes into Southeast Asia, 70% goes to the service industry, meaning that the quality of life is
becoming expected, middle class is growing, education and logistics are in demand.




We must improve our institutions, particularly tariffs and

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