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Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

23rd April 2014

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the President of the United States is set to visit Japan in order to begin a multi-nation trip around North and Southeast Asia. Currently on the itinerary are South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Apparently, the trip is being undertaken in an effort to strengthen ties with those nations and to further showcase the administration’s commitment to the “pivot” policy whereby the United States will further concentrate upon ties with the nations of the Asia-Pacific region.

It is interesting to note that this recent trip comes during a time where there are perceived to be increasing tensions between the United States and the Peoples’ Republic of China. Moreover, recent Chinese claims to territories in the Eastern and South China seas have caused further tensions between China, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia (to name only a few). The issues surrounding dealings with China, which is one of the United States’ largest trading partners as well as a competitor for influence in the Asia-Pacific region, are likely to be at the forefront of discussions between the American President and his counterparts in the various countries to be visited. As economic growth in Southeast Asia continues, it stands to reason that building long-lasting economic ties with the region is a substantial concern. Meanwhile, smaller Asian nations may seek support from the United States in an effort to counter what some view as an overly expansionist China. All of these issues arise at a time when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is preparing for further economic integration in the form of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which is set to come into effect in 2015. How ASEAN integration, Chinese expansion (both militarily and economically), and American foreign policy will interact in the months and years ahead remains to be seen, but clearly Southeast Asia remains at the forefront of geopolitics.

With respect to the Kingdom of Thailand, it appears that Thai officials are preparing for ASEAN economic integration by encouraging the creation of an ASEAN trading hub in Southern Thailand. As Hat Yai is currently a significant trading center in the Southern region of Thailand and boasts of an international airport along with multi-cultural demographics it is a logical location to capitalize upon ASEAN economic integration which would result in significant benefits for Thailand domestically as well as Malaysia and ASEAN as a whole. The economic benefits which could arise from ASEAN economic integration are virtually limitless and perhaps one day the ASEAN trading bloc could be as economically dominant as the economies of the USA and China.

 

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5th November 2013

In recent postings throughout the internet, speculation regarding the future of Southeast Asian economics abound. Meanwhile, further analysis of the Thai economy in particular is rife. In a recent article on Forbes’ official website evidence has been cited which would appear to point to the possibility that Thailand may experience an economic bubble burst akin to the crash of 1997. Various Thai government officials as well as Thai businesspersons were quoted as saying that certain aspects of the Thai economy are troubling. Notably, inflows of foreign capital specifically targeting the Thai property market as well as signs that Thai people are engaged in what could be described as conspicuous consumption are leading some experts to believe that Thailand could be headed for a new economic downturn.

Concurrently, the article went on to note that Thailand, ever susceptible to negative economic consequences arising from nations which maintain significant trade relationships with the Kingdom, may see problems in export sectors resulting from decreased demand in both China and the other nations which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Should there be an economic problem in one of these countries then there could be a sort of negative ripple effect in the export sector in Thailand.

The points made in the article are compelling and certainly there may be cause for concern that the Thai economy may be placed in a difficult position in the future, especially if Thailand’s main export markets experience an economic downturn. However, the situation may not be as dire as some are predicting. Instead, this blogger would argue that Thailand’s economy may be simply in something of a state of flux due to changes in the ASEAN region and China. The dynamics of global economics are changing. American monetary policy along with economic problems in Europe have caused many to look toward Asia as a beacon of possible future growth.

In a recent article on the official website of Bloomberg it was noted that there appears to be a “boom” of sorts occurring in the Eastern province of Rayong and the region of Northeast Thailand known as Isan. As automobile manufacturing has increased in Rayong, so too has the purchasing power of residents of that province. Meanwhile, Isan is experiencing an upsurge economically as a result of increased domestic income and also concomitant demand for consumer goods from the local population. All of this news comes closely upon the heels of announcements that Thailand, Laos, and China will one day be connected via a high speed rail system. In fact, China has recently noted their commitment to that project and Thai officials have asked China to assist in the design of a rail system between Bangkok and Udon Thani (a city of 400,000 which sits close to the border and capital of Laos). There is an argument that should this rail system go into place the resulting economic boon to Thailand, particularly Northeast Thailand, could be tremendous as there could be a substantial increase in trade and tourism from China via this rail link. Moreover, Thailand could see itself becoming the entrepot for trade between South China and the rest of the ASEAN jurisdictions.

Presently, it is difficult to say whether Thailand will continue a trend of uninterrupted prosperity. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that increased economic integration with ASEAN as well as new, less logistically difficult, trade opportunities with China could usher in an era of prosperity and counter some of the negative factors currently worrying experts analyzing the current state of the Thai economy.

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3rd September 2013

A recent article posted on the official MCOT website noted that Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is currently visiting Nanning, China. Nanning is the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Apparently she is visiting in her official capacity and attending the commencement of the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and the 10th China-ASEAN Expo. These activities are reportedly to continue until the 6th of September. A government spokesman pointed out that the Kingdom of Thailand and the Peoples’ Republic of China are seeking to increase bilateral trade volume to $100 billion by 2015. The same spokesman also noted that the Chinese Prime Minister has signaled Chinese intentions to purchase 1 million tons of rice from Thailand.

The issue of international purchases of Thai rice has been controversial in recent months as the current Thai government has taken criticism for the so-called rice pledging scheme. Should the Chinese government ultimately purchase the amount of rice noted above it could be viewed as a positive development for the Thai agricultural sector as a whole and the rice sector in particular.

It was also noted that Chinese officials had displayed interest in investing in the Thai rubber industry. As in the case of the Thai rice pledging scheme, the current government has dealt with frustration from labor groups in the Thai rubber industry as protests of current policy have even caused highways and railways to be closed in Southern Thailand. Perhaps an influx of Chinese investment could ease some of these tensions and result in a more prosperous Thai rubber sector in the future.

Meanwhile, the issue of railways also seems to be of importance to Thai, ASEAN, and Chinese officials attending the summit as Thailand appears set upon investing 2 trillion baht in infrastructure projects including construction of high speed rail systems. It is hoped that by the year 2020 Thailand will have a high speed rail system connecting to China via Laos. In the previous posting on this blog it was pointed out that Chinese businesses are repositioning themselves both strategically and geographically in an effort to gain further access to what they believe to be an increasingly lucrative ASEAN market. By creating a high speed rail link between China and Thailand, Thai officials could place Thailand in a very beneficial position in the future since such a system would facilitate further trade not only between China and Thailand, but also between those two countries and the other ASEAN markets.

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2nd September 2013

In a recent China Daily news article the impact of growing trade between China and the countries which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was discussed. It would appear that trade between China and ASEAN is having significant ramifications for merchants and businesspeople within China. The article points out that a Chinese candy manufacturer moved its operations to Guangxi, once considered something of a backwater, in an effort to better capitalize upon the benefits of ASEAN’s rise economically. In the article Wu Jinpei, the owner of the aforementioned candy manufacturer, points out that gaining access to the ASEAN market is an important issue for his business “We invested in Guangxi because the region is a gateway to the ASEAN, which provides great geographic advantages and potential markets.”

In a previous posting on this blog, it was pointed out that China-ASEAN trade has increased exponentially in the past 10 years. As of 2012, trade between ASEAN and China exceeded $400 billion. This number is roughly five times larger than the same figures in 2003. Clearly ASEAN is proving to not only be a major factor to be taken into consideration by those doing business within Southeast Asia, but also by those trading in Greater Asia as well. The previously cited article went on to point out that as trade has flourished between China and ASEAN the business dynamics within China have transformed as well. “When I first came here [Guangxi] in 1996, there were only a dozen businessmen from Fujian and the market was small,” said Wu. “But now more than 1,000 Fujian merchants have gathered in this tiny city and the number is growing.”

Recent comments from the Thai Prime Minister pointed out that high speed rail systems linking Thailand to China via Laos is a priority in the long term and many other ASEAN jurisdictions have been moving towards developing similar projects. These remarks, coupled with the information cited in the above article are reminiscent of the period in the United States when so-called “rail heads” created boom-towns across the American frontier. As the railroads continued their drive westward and as new territories became more integrated into the overall economy trade flourished and prosperity increased.

Could the growth of ASEAN-China trade and once small Chinese business communities becoming significant trade centers catering to ASEAN demand combined with the prospect of further economic integration through connection of ASEAN countries with China herald a new boom-town era for East and Southeast Asia? It seems quite likely that as China’s economy continues to become more sophisticated and as ASEAN moves toward economic integration, in the form of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the world could see staggering economic growth in once obscure geographic areas in Asia.

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30th August 2013

In a recent article from The Telegraph author Ambrose Evans-Pritchard analyzed how Federal Reserve policies impact emerging markets. It is a very interesting article for anyone (especially expatriates living abroad) interested in understanding how Fed policy reverberates in markets outside of the United States. Of particular interest to expats living overseas was the analysis of the disproportionate impact Fed policy has on foreign nationals residing in other countries. Although the aforementioned article would seem primarily targeted  at a British audience, as an American expatriate living in the Kingdom of Thailand, I found this information compelling. Evans-Pritchard cited an assertion from Mirza Baig of BNP Paribas noting that foreign nationals bear significant currency risks in some of the nations in Southeast Asia. In Thailand, it appears that foreigners bear currency risks of 81%, while those expatriates living in Malaysia and India bear 90% and 74% risk, respectively. I have  dealt with the vicissitudes of currency fluctuation many times during my tenure in Thailand as the exchange rate between the Thai Baht and the US Dollar was around 39-1 when I first arrived in the Kingdom. Since then, I have seen the exchange rate fall (or rise depending upon your perspective) to around 27-1 and re-stabilize around 30-1. As of the time of this writing, the Baht-Dollar exchange rate stands at approximately 31-1. However, many are speculating that the Baht will lose value against the dollar in the coming months. This would likely be due to the perception that the Fed may begin to implement a kind of belt tightening after years of promoting liquidity.

Unlike times past, the actions of the Fed have increasingly serious implications in emerging markets. As the article noted, in the past when the Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker tightened up his belt, there were substantial ramifications in South America and elsewhere. The negative aspects of those policies on South American economies was containable. However, this was at a time when China was virtually isolated, and the Soviet Union did not really factor into the any analysis of the economic interactions between countries in the “Free World”. Meanwhile in the 1990′s Federal Reserve policies could negatively impact global economics more than before that period, such negative implications were still containable since there was a “power ratio” of around 1:2 between the United States economy and the emerging markets. This is no longer the case as the relationship has basically equalized. Should Fed policies have a substantial negative impact on the emerging markets, then the problem may not be contained within those markets and the economic problems could easily (and quickly, if there is anything to be learned from the financial crashes of the past decade) spill over into Western Europe and America.

In American politics, one cannot read articles and information regarding the United States’ stance on Southeast Asia without seeing the words “pivot”. The Obama administration has consistently noted that the U.S. wishes to see American foreign policy “pivot” to a more solid relationship with the nations in the Asia-Pacific region and those comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In fact the P-word has been cited in connection to the visit to Southeast Asia by the American Secretary of Defense. However, in light of recent events in the economic sphere it would appear that ASEAN countries and Thailand specifically may be “pivoting” themselves. For example, at the recent meeting between the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and the Foreign Minister of China it was noted that Sino-ASEAN trade increased five times compared to ten years ago. As of 2012, trade between China and ASEAN stood at approximately $400 billion. Clearly, China is becoming an increasingly important trading partner and in light of the fact that ASEAN and Thailand may not wish to be at the mercy of the Fed’s whims, further solidifying this relationship may prove to be an effective method for ASEAN nations to mitigate negative side effects caused by economic policies of both China and the United States.

In a recent interview, the Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, articulated a desire to see further investment in Thailand from China and supported such an investment due to Thailand’s position as the “strategic center” of ASEAN. “Thailand will be spending about 66 billion U.S. dollars in infrastructure. Especially, we will need the technology that China has, like high speed train,” Mrs. Yingluck stated. “And we know that the high-speed railway connecting Thailand and China will run from Thailand through Laos to China. So it will be an important part of Chinese investment in Thailand”. As the deadline for ASEAN integration comes ever closer it seems logical to assume that Thailand, the ASEAN jurisdictions, and China will all see a closer economic relationship begin to blossom. How this relationship will impact both diplomatic and trade relations with the United States remains to be seen, but American economic policy makers should be aware that the era of America being able to set economic and monetary policy with little thought to the implications in emerging Asian markets has passed.

 

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21st August 2013

It was recently announced that Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand met for the first Thailand-China Strategic Dialogue on August 19. These two officials discussed many issues of importance to both countries and assessed not only the Sino-Thai relationship, but also the relationship both countries maintain with the nations comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). To quote a recent press release from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Both sides noted with satisfaction the progress and the dynamism made in areas as high-level visits, trade and investment, tourism, culture and education since the adoption of the Joint Action Plan on Thailand-China Strategic Cooperation (2012-2016). Both sides agreed to maintain the momentum and, as for next steps, to deepen cooperation on high speed train, water resources management, green, renewable and alternative energy as well as education and human resource development as priority under the MOU on Cooperation on Sustainable Development. Both sides shared the view that the 3rd Meeting of the Joint Commission on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation should be convened soon to discuss ways to further promote trade and investment in order to achieve the bilateral trade target of 100 billion USD by 2015 set by the leaders of the two countries. Both sides also agreed to fully implement the MOU on Agricultural Trade Cooperation and facilitation trade in agricultural products and RMB should play a greater role in the business transactions between China and Thailand. Both sides reviewed the decade-long China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership and agreed that it has stood as a pillar of regional peace, stability and prosperity…

As the date approaches for the integration of the ASEAN economies thereby creating the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) many nations around the world and within the region are likely speculating as to how ASEAN and China will interact both geopolitically and economically. In fact, the recent Thai-Chinese dialogue occurs closely after a recent ASEAN Foreign Minister’s Retreat hosted in the Thai city of Hua Hin. Mr. Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, chaired the meeting. During the course of the discussions, the issue of the Sino-ASEAN relations was discussed. To quote directly from a different press release from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Mr. Surapong highlighted the importance of ASEAN’s centrality in the evolving regional architecture. He suggested that ASEAN should strive towards a common and more coordinated position and speak with one voice on matters that affect the interest of ASEAN…On ASEAN-China dialogue relations, Mr. Surapong emphasized the importance of maintaining the continuing the spirit of “constructive cooperation” for mutual trust and cordial relations between ASEAN and China, including through advancing trade facilitation and promoting ASEAN’s connectivity efforts with China. He looked forward to the convening of a Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers Meeting on 28 – 30 August 2013 in Beijing, to further discuss ways to enhance the strategic relations between ASEAN and China.

Clearly ASEAN’s future economic position is of interest to the Foreign Ministers representing the nations which are included in ASEAN. However, the future of Sino-ASEAN relations is of key importance not only in terms of regional politics, but in terms of global economics and international affairs. How ASEAN will interact with China on key international issues in the future is of significance for many nations in the Asia-Pacific region. Meanwhile, an integrated ASEAN economic bloc could represent one of, if not the, largest economies in the world at some point in the relatively near future. By capitalizing on such a situation to improve trade relations not only with China, but with the United States and the nations comprising the European Union, the countries of ASEAN could stand to reap benefits exponentially larger than those garnered through traditional bi-lateral negotiation.

It will be interesting to see what develops at the upcoming meeting of ASEAN and Chinese Foreign Ministers.

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19th August 2013

It appears that Thailand has thrown its “hat into the ring” in the campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. In a recent press  release from Thailand’s Government Public Relations Department:

Thailand has submitted its candidature for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the term 2017-2018. The Thai government has also announced the official launch of Thailand’s campaign for UNSC, with the elections scheduled for October 2016, during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Thai officials appear confident that Thailand would be well suited to the duties and responsibilities inherent in a non-permanent appointment to the United Nations Security Council. Thailand has always maintained the position that diplomacy can act as a deterrent to international conflict. Furthermore, Thailand has played an integral part in various United Nations operations:

Thailand has always answered UNSC’s call for collective action in UN peace missions around the world. Since 1950, Thailand has deployed over 20,000 military and police personnel in over 20 UN peacekeeping and related missions worldwide. Just recently, Thailand has for the first time sent its policewomen to participate in the UN Mission in Liberia.

As noted above, Thailand’s role in international peacekeeping initiatives cannot be overstated. Meanwhile, Thailand has continued to maintain a deep commitment to promoting human rights in an international context. At the same time, Thailand and Thai officials have implemented policies to promote not only security, but peaceful solutions to potentially contentious international issues. All of this being stated, it has been quite some time since Thailand has held a position on the UN Security Council notwithstanding the fact that the Kingdom of Thailand has played a key role in many UN projects and programs.

Thailand served as President of the General Assembly in 1956 and served once as a non-permanent member of UNSC in 1985-1986. It was elected to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for the term 2010-2013 during which it served as President between 2010 and 2011. Thailand has subsequently submitted its HRC candidature for a second term in 2015-2017.

As Thailand has recently been intimately involved with human rights issues as a member of the UNHRC it stands to reason that Thailand may be well equipped for a seat on the Security Council as the matters discussed and policies promulgated by the UNSC can have a tremendous impact on many nations and individuals around the world. Those monitoring this issue can only speculate as to the outcome of Thailand’s decision to seek a Security Council position, but there seem to be logical arguments in favor of placing Thailand in such an important role.

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15th August 2013

In a recent press release from the United States Department of State, Daniel R. Russell, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, discussed the recent anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the interaction between the ASEAN economies and that of the United States. To quote directly from the recent press release posted on the State Department website:

As the Secretary noted in a statement last week on August 8, the anniversary of ASEAN’s founding, the United States is deeply committed to supporting and partnering with ASEAN…ASEAN is growing in importance. The ten ASEAN countries include two close U.S. treaty allies, valuable security partners, thriving democracies, and Muslim majority nations that are both moderate and influential. ASEAN represents the United States’ fifth largest trading partner and our fourth largest export market. Following U.S. accession to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in 2009, and in a clear sign of our support for ASEAN, the United States became the first non-ASEAN country to establish a dedicated Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta in June 2010…

Those interested in reading this press release in detail are encouraged to click on the hyperlink noted above.

The United States government is clearly intent on increasing ties with the ASEAN region as the economies have such a significant impact upon the American economy. Meanwhile, many of the countries in ASEAN, including the Kingdom of Thailand, have long standing ties buttressed by cooperation politically, militarily, and economically . In short, the US-ASEAN relationship is a “win-win” for all concerned. The remarks noted above, were followed up by references to the upcoming implementation of a more integrated ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which is due to become a reality in 2015. To quote further from the aforementioned press release:

The ASEAN-U.S. partnership is grounded in cooperation across political, security, and cultural spheres. Our engagement with ASEAN has led to tangible results in such areas as maritime security, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief. Our work through the Lower Mekong Initiative has led to positive outcomes supporting the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 and development in the Lower Mekong sub-region. And the United States is committed to capacity building for the ASEAN Secretariat…

As the date for ASEAN economic integration draws increasingly close, the countries which comprise ASEAN (Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) would appear to be waiting with bated breath to ascertain whether or not the transition will be a smooth one. It is this blogger’s opinion that the ASEAN Economic integration will in fact turn out to be a rather seamless transition as a great deal of time and effort has been expended by all parties to analyze possible problems and implement solutions prior to the integration itself. The United States has shown (through frequent Presidential visits to the ASEAN region as well as policies which provide support for ASEAN’s initiatives) that it is committed to not only engaging the ASEAN region, but also assisting in creating a mutually beneficial framework for US-ASEAN relations in the future.

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9th August 2013

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the regional bloc which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, celebrated it’s 46th birthday. To quote directly from the website thepeninsulaqatar.com:

DOHA: Ambassadors of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Qatar were in accord, saying Asean will meet its target to integrate the 10 nations’ economies by end of 2015, as they celebrated the 46th Asean Day yesterday at the Vietnam Embassy…Singapore Ambassador Wong Kwok Pun cited some areas that Asean has made progress on the implementation of the Asean Charter. In particular, he pointed out Asean has made headway on disputes settlement mechanism, has been working towards the implementation of the roadmap for the Asean community, and taken big steps toward an integrated and sustained economic development…

The implementation of policies which would create an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has been an oft-discussed topic among business and legal professionals throughout Southeast Asia. This issue is such a significant topic because by creating a unified Southeast Asian marketplace the countries which comprise ASEAN would become one of the largest markets in the world virtually overnight. That stated, there is a great deal of debate as to whether or not the transition into a unified market will occur smoothly. Some argue that the disparate laws, regulations, and policies throughout the ASEAN member states will not easily coalesce into a workable framework for businesses to operate in the region until governments in ASEAN can implement local policies to bring their regulations in line with the other ASEAN nations. On the  other hand, some argue that because ASEAN leaders have adopted a slow approach to integrating the ASEAN economies the nations which comprise this trading bloc will be able to integrate within the larger body relatively quickly.

Of further concern to both foreign nationals as well as nationals from ASEAN member nations is the promulgation of a single ASEAN visa scheme. Presently, there is not a single visa which one can obtain which would allow the bearer to travel unfettered throughout the the whole of ASEAN. However, leaders in some of the ASEAN countries are looking to remedy this. To quote from the website aseanvisa.com:

Ministers and tourism authorities of the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Indonesia have expressed their intention to collaborate with relevant government agencies and other stakeholders to facilitate travel in the region by developing a common smart visa system…According to www.smartvisa.travel, a smart visa is a digital paperless substitute for a traditional visa that can be obtained by a traveler from a travel agent or participating airline…

Clearly, steps are being taken to create some sort of travel document which would provide immigration benefits in multiple ASEAN nations simultaneously. The impetus behind the push for a single ASEAN visa seems to stem from two sources. First, many of the ASEAN nations would appear to view an ASEAN visa as a means of increasing tourism throughout ASEAN. This would appear to especially be a concern to officials in those Southeast Asian nations which do not benefit from high tourism as compared to their other ASEAN counterparts. By creating a visa which allows for access to more than one ASEAN jurisdiction tourist travel to some countries might increase as travelers are no longer deterred in making “side trips” to less popular destinations due to a desire to avoid the need to obtain another visa. Another consideration would appear to be business travel, as ASEAN economic integration continues to gather steam it stands to reason that more foreign nationals will need to visit multiple ASEAN jurisdictions in order to conduct business in the region. By implementing policies to provide for a single ASEAN visa, business travel may increase throughout the region.

The aforementioned article also mentions the recent decision by Thai and Cambodian Immigration authorities to provide a unified visa scheme for travelers wishing to visit those two countries. To quote further from the aseanvisa.com article:

It [the single ASEAN visa scheme] also builds on the single visa scheme for tourism travel between Cambodia and Thailand, which was implemented on January 1, 2013. Progressive relaxation and an Asean common visa would also benefit non-Asean nationals who intend to visit the Asean countries…

One can speculate whether or not the Thai-Cambodian visa scheme mentioned above will one day be consolidated into a pan-ASEAN visa scheme. There are certainly arguments as to the benefits of such an integration, most notably the probable increase in tourism to all of the ASEAN nations. However, one thing remains clear: it appears that virtually all leaders of the ASEAN nations are assiduously studying the ramifications of a single ASEAN visa scheme and should their findings prove that such a scheme would be a benefit to all of ASEAN; then it is likely that such a scheme will eventually come into existence.

For related information please see: Thailand visa.

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22nd September 2012

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that an official representative from the Republic of Korea appears to have been appointed Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In order to provide further information on this topic it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Korea Times, KoreaTimes.co.kr:

Baek Seong-taek, a career diplomat who had served in various capacities at overseas missions including Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia, was appointed this week as Seoul’s first envoy dedicated to ASEAN. With Baek’s appointment, Korea became the fourth non-ASEAN nation to name an ambassador to the regional bloc and will launch a permanent mission for the ASEAN in Jakarta next month to redouble engagement on a wide range of issues such as trade, regional security, disaster management and human rights…Baek said he expects ASEAN to play a “balancing role” in Asia, where a power shift is under way amid the rise of China and the decline of Japanese influence, with the U.S. making a so-called “pivot” to the region…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

Although Korea is not the first nation to send an envoy to ASEAN, these developments show an increasing interest in ASEAN’s affairs from the international community. As ASEAN moves closer to being a fully integrated economic community it stands to reason that other nations will desire more interaction with this Southeast Asian organization.

On a related note, it would appear that the Asia-Pacific region is becoming an increasingly popular location among the world’s wealthy, for further insight this blogger must quote from the official website of Bloomberg, Bloomberg.com:

More people in Asia became millionaires last year as the region’s economic growth and entrepreneurship helped generate affluence, according to a report by RBC Wealth Management and Capgemini SA. The number of individuals in Asia-Pacific with investable assets of $1 million to $5 million climbed 1.9 percent to 3.08 million in 2011, according to the report released in Singapore and Hong Kong today. Their total wealth increased 1.5 percent…The World Wealth Report showed in June that the number of individuals in Asia-Pacific with at least $1 million in investable assets jumped 1.6 percent last year to 3.37 million, helped by increases in China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. So-called high net-worth individuals in North America dropped 1.1 percent to 3.35 million.

Again, readers are asked to click upon the hyperlinks above to read this article in full.

Based upon the information contained in the article above it would appear that the Asia-Pacific region is now home to the largest number of millionaires in the world. However, much of these individuals’ capital would appear to be located in a few key jurisdictions in Asia most notably Hong Kong and Singapore. One could speculate that future growth may not only increase affluence in places such as Singapore and Hong Kong, but more broadly over the ASEAN and Asia-Pacific regions, respectively.

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