Key success factors toward the Asean Economic Community, the Thai perspective

ASEAN’s AEC is set to reach its first “Milestone Target” in 2015 and that is only about a year away. Thailand, of course, is deeply involved with internal political crisis that could lead to a civil war, says many. And so Thailand, only early last year, was seen as the most active in getting ready for an ASEAN AEC, is now seen by many as the “Sick Man of Asia.” But giving that state of being the sick man, that verges on being a “Failed State” many in Thailand continues to look and plan for Thailand’s role in ASEAN AEC.

Key success factors toward the Asean Economic Community, the Thai perspective (Source)

20 Mar 2014

Written by Dr. Conchita L. Manabat

“One day there will be no borders, no boundaries, no flags and no countries and the only passport will be the heart.” –Carlos Santana
IN a collaborative project of the Organization Development Institute (ODI) of the ABAC Graduate School of Business (GSB) of the Assumption University of Bangkok, Thailand, and Adecco Consulting Ltd. Thailand, a research was done to present baseline data that would determine the next best steps for today’s business leaders and managers to level themselves up to the challenges of the times. The Asean Economic Community (AEC) 2015 is one significant driver of change confronting business entities as it drives the business leaders to assess their organization’s management and leadership toward growth and competitiveness.

Some 218 top executives, directors and managers mostly from the service industry participated in the study. The results of the research disclose that there are five most critical competencies/skills required for the Thai managers, namely:

English language communications skills;
Innovative and ingenious practices in developing products and services;
Hands-on execution of business/services for strategic planning and management;
Process-learning which is a critical skill for coaching and empowerment in developing the human potential; and
Open-mindedness for the cultural diversities where business/services are.

Of note is the need to veer away from the usual/standard/prefabricated training programs to prepare the managers. There is the emerging need to orient the focus of individual development and holistic management toward leveraging the human brain functioning as an integral part of everyday life at the workplace. This translates to total transformation and change from within. The person has to revisit his/her “personal calling and values.” It is a process of reconnecting between self-purpose and calling along with looking at the current realities—“ways things are.”
On the next level, there is the need to create work environments where everyone feels that the workplace truly promotes creativity and innovation and not just the compliance to rules and orders. On skills and knowledge management, the 80/20 rule should be used where 20 percent is theory/content-based learning and 80 percent is experiential learning, i.e., learning from actual cases. Mastery of problem solving is an expectation.

Holistically, organization leaders at the senior and top levels are expected to create the right kind of work environment that promotes self-initiative contributing to the company’s long-term competitiveness. As the doors are open to regional professionals and workers, cross-cultural and diversity-based lessons for leadership development programs should be built into the training packages.

The waves of change are surging as 2015 is just a few months away. The research work provides appropriate references for the way forward. The project proponents are Adecco Corporate Director Phitiya Phromchanya and the Graduate School of Business ABAC of Assumption University’s Dr. Perla Rizalina M. Tayko (ABAC ODI director), Dr. Kitikorn Dowpiset (associate dean, GSB ABAC), Dr. Vorapot Rucktum (research specialist) and Dr. Sirichai Preudhikulpradb (associate director, MMOD Program ABAC).

On March 7 this writer was privileged to be with the above-cited Thai educators and practitioners in a three-in-one event at the Hua Mak Campus as speaker for the month of March and a guest to the launch of the Organization Development (OD) Index, and the launch of an OD Case Study—“Making It to the Big 4: a Journey of a Decade.”

Dr. Conchita L. Manabat is the president of Development Center for Finance and is a member of the Consultative Advisory Group for the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants and the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board representing the Asian Financial Executives Institutes. She is a past chairman of the International Association of Financial Executives Institutes (IAFEI), where she now serves as chairman of its Advisory Council. IAFEI will hold its 44th IAFEI World Congress in the Philippines, to be hosted by the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines from October 15 to 17. A technical session on AEC 2015 and Lessons from the EU is scheduled in the afternoon of October 16, where global professionals and businesspersons will exchange insights on regional aggrupation.

Thailand Sets Strategies in Its Blueprint in Preparation for AEC (12/03/2014) (Source)

With the coming of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the Ministry of Commerce has set strategies in Thailand’s blueprint for relevant agencies to use as guidelines for the implementation of AEC.

It will work with the private sector in the form of public-private partnerships. A clear action plan will also be worked out for all provinces in Thailand and overseas offices, which would enable them to operate in the same direction.

According to the Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Mrs. Srirat Rastapana, the blueprint consists of eight strategies. In the first strategy, Thailand will move actively toward trade negotiations in ASEAN and other international forums, such as the World Trade Organization and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Bilateral talks under joint trade committees will also be emphasized for the benefit of SMEs and economic development as a whole.

The second strategy seeks to develop the body of knowledge about AEC. In this regard, an AEC Learning Center will be set up at the Ministry of Commerce, and training and seminars will be organized to develop personnel in both the public and private sectors on a continual basis.
The third strategy seeks to develop the “single gateway” for trade services by the Ministry of Commerce and to provide counseling services through the 87 ASEAN Business Support Centers within the Ministry of Commerce in Bangkok, provincial commerce offices, and Thai Trade Centers in ASEAN and southern China.

In the fourth strategy, Thailand’s trade competitiveness will be enhanced, with an emphasis on the development of trade infrastructure, e-commerce, and logistics supply chains.

In the fifth strategy, various provinces in Thailand will be given support for moving toward becoming AEC cities, so that they will have greater trade and investment opportunities. For instance, Chiang Rai in the North, Khon Kaen in the Northeast, and Songkhla in the South will be developed as AEC cities between 2014 and 2015. Moreover, the Ministry of Commerce is attaching greater importance to boosting border trade with neighboring countries.

The sixth strategy seeks to increase Thailand’s market share in AEC by encouraging the private sector to pay greater attention to ASEAN markets and to realize that Thailand will become part of the ASEAN single market.

The seventh strategy seeks to improve economic and trade laws to become more updated, in line with commitments under AEC.
In the eighth strategy, the Ministry of Commerce’s Prince Chandaburi Narunath Institute will be upgraded to international standards in order to enhance its capacity for human resource development. Training courses for entrepreneurs will be further developed, so that they will cover all target groups, such as the Young AEC, OTOP Traders, and professional business people projects.

Thai Engineers and Architects Prepare for ASEAN Free Flow of Skilled Labor (14/03/2013) (Source)

Thai engineers and architects will become freer to move to other ASEAN countries following the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

AEC will pave the way for the free flow of skilled labor in eight professions, namely doctors, dentists, nurses, engineers, architects, accountants, surveyors, and tourism professionals.

As ASEAN countries have agreed on the implementation process of the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on engineering and architectural services, relevant organizations in Thailand see the need for the two professions to prepare for the flow of engineers and architects from other ASEAN nations to Thailand. At the same time, Thailand may face shortages in these professions, as well.

The Director of the Bureau of Trade in Services and Investment, Department of Trade Negotiations, Ms. Banjongjitt Angsusingh, said that engineers now represent only 0.25 percent of the ASEAN population. Among ASEAN countries, Vietnam has the highest number of engineers, followed by Indonesia and Thailand.

In Thailand, she said, Thai engineers need to improve their foreign language skills in preparation for AEC. There are still not enough incentives for Thai engineers to work overseas. In addition, they do not have much knowledge about related laws and regulations in each ASEAN country.
The President of the Consulting Engineers Association of Thailand, Mr. Pisit Puthipiroj, said that, with the arrival of AEC, engineers in Singapore and Malaysia seem to have more advantages than their counterparts in other ASEAN countries, as they receive support from the public sector, in terms of financial and tax measures.

He said that individual consulting engineers, if they have licenses, would find it easier to work in other ASEAN countries than consulting companies that need international certifications, such as ISO, and local partners in respective countries.

As for architects, it is the ASEAN Architect Council that has set qualifications for architects to register to work in all Member States. Architect councils in ASEAN countries have jointly formed the ASEAN Architect Council. Statistics in 2012 show that there are currently about 17,000 registered Thai architects.

An analysis conducted by the Center for International Trade Studies, University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, indicates that only one out of 10 Thai engineers is aware of the benefits of the free movement of ASEAN engineers. About 50 percent of Thai architects, on the other hand, recognize the benefits of the free flow of skilled labor and MRA, which aims to facilitate movement of professionals between countries of ASEAN, especially in the context of market integration.

Higher Education in Thailand Focuses More on ASEAN (16/03/2014) (Source)

Higher education in Thailand is focusing more on developing human resources to cope with economic and social changes that will be brought on by the ASEAN Community.

The issue was discussed at a seminar on the topic “Thailand’s Higher Education toward ASEAN,” held recently by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Mahidol University.

In his speech at the seminar, President of Mahidol University Professor Rajata Rajatanavin pointed out that higher education is regarded as the main pillar in the creation of human capital for economic and social development. Today, both state and private universities in Thailand need to develop human resources not only for Thailand but also for ASEAN. Educational institutions must prepare for the new situation, when about 600 million people in ASEAN become members of the same community.

The question is how to ensure that these people of different races, religions, cultures, and lifestyles live together in peace and harmony. They should be encouraged to use their resources jointly, with compassion and contribution for the benefit of ASEAN as a whole. This would strengthen political and economic stability in the region and lead to the well-being of the people.

Professor Rajata stated that, in preparing students for the ASEAN Community, emphasis should be placed not only on educational programs and professions, but also the right attitude and social responsibility, as well as morality. All higher educational institutions are now attaching greater importance to producing graduates with high professional and ethical standards.

Rector of Thammasat University Professor Dr. Somkit Lertpaithoon stressed the need for all universities to give emphasis on four issues. They include the teaching English and other foreign languages, knowledge and understanding about ASEAN, cultures of ASEAN peoples, and the quality of Thailand’s higher education.

Associate Professor Somphob Manarangsan, President of the Panyapiwat Institute of Management and former lecturer at the Faculty of Economics, Chulalongkorn University, said that Thailand needs to prepare the workforce in response to changes to take place in CLMV countries, namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

For example, Thai products, especially consumer goods, stand a good chance of penetrating these markets, where numerous grocery stores will be opened. There will be many construction projects to cope with urbanization. In addition, the agricultural and industrial sectors in these countries will also undergo restructuring.

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