Special Report : Agro-industry in the AEC

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Moving towards the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is posing a big challenge for Thailand, an agricultural country with national economy relying on farm exports. The integration of the countries in the ASEAN grouping will allow free flows of goods and services within the community, thus benefiting farm products from Thailand to easily access the regional market with less difficulty. ASEAN will become a significant market for Thai agricultural goods. At this juncture, the standard and quality of farm products have become a serious matter that can’t be taken lightly.

A guideline has, therefore, been set for Thai farm exports in preparation for the liberalized trade system. Farm products that have been certified by renowned organizations will be sold to high end markets while those of medium or lower quality will also have more opportunities for expansion as import/export barriers have been eliminated under the AEC.

Farmers as well as businessmen are advised to take advantage of the single market through pooling of human resources and business networking in the region in order to heighten their competitiveness. Through such approaches, capital cost will be lowered and the regional productivity en masse will give ASEAN a higher bargaining power.

Closer cooperation in the region will empower ASEAN to compete economically in the global market. The result will raise the standards of living and income for farmers. The Senate has set up a sub-committee to educate Thai farmers on the pros and cons of entering the AEC and where they should improve to stay ahead in the agro-business competition.

The government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, has developed a 7-point strategy to prepare farmers for the regional integration.

The strategy is aimed at raising the standards of farm products, raising their values, conducting researches to improve the quality, developing better pest-and-disease control, maintaining labor supply, and promoting investment and water management.

All of them are said to be important elements in driving the Thai economy forward and making it more sustainable. Above all, their achievements will never be possible without the help of everyone and every sector.